Oral Contraceptives & Nutrient Deficiencies
The birth control pill has been around for decades. It is an effective and reliable way to prevent pregnancy when taken as directed. Additionally, it has been prescribed to women for reasons other than contraception, such as irregularities in the menstrual cycle, painful periods or even hormonal acne. Today more than ten million women in the world take oral contraceptives. What some of these women are unaware of is that the pill can deplete the body of vital nutrients.
What Studies Are Showing About Nutrient Depletion and Oral Contraceptives
Many studies have been released that show a correlation between birth control usage and nutrient deficiencies. A handful of studies have shown direct relationships between oral contraceptive use and folate and B-vitamin depletion. Although one study explains that contraceptive use may not exactly cause a deficiency in B12, it concluded that total vitamin B12 binding capacity of the serum as well as the transcobalamin I levels were significantly lower in the users of the pill than in non-users (Shojania, 1982).
As we know, B12 plays an active role in the methylation cycle. Additionally, without B-vitamins, your body cannot synthesize thyroid hormones. Interference with thyroid hormones can cause an array of symptoms, including the following:
- Hair loss
- Anxiety and/or depression
Oral Contraceptives and Folate
According to Dr. Ben Lynch, if women take specific types of oral contraceptives and also have the MTHFR C677T mutation, then their methylfolate levels are highly likely to drop below normal (thereby causing significant issues). This folate depletion is part of the reason for some of the most common side effects of birth control pills – fatigue, mild depression, and even acne. In theory, if you went on the pill to combat your hormonal acne to begin with, you may actually be making it worse due to the decrease in folate levels in your body.
Here is a list of other vital nutrients that can be depleted by the pill (other than folate and B12):
- Vitamin C
- B2 – Riboflavin
- B6 – Pyridoxine
- Vitamin E