Some say there is no conclusive evidence to show that users of birth control pills, otherwise known as oral contraceptives (OC’s), need more vitamins and minerals. I say….all women on these pills need to be on a good multivitamin/mineral supplement.
Research has shown that taking OC’s, especially over many years, can have a significant effect on how nutrients are absorbed in the body. Overtime, symptoms of nutrient deficiencies can be misinterpreted for other problems that are actually due to OC’s.
Common symptoms that I see at the clinic include: depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of appetite, headaches, fatigue, erratic blood sugars and insomnia. These symptoms can certainly be due to other causes, but if a woman has been on OC’s for more than 3 months, I will treat them with the most suspected nutrient deficiencies which are vitamins B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-12, folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and the minerals Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, Iron, and Copper.
Deficiencies in all these vitamin/minerals can lead to depression. Foods that are loaded with these nutrients include:
Vitamin B-6- fish, poultry, meat, whole grains and potatoes
Folic acid- leafy greens and dries beans
Vitamin B-2- milk, meat, poultry, fish, dark leafy greens and enriched cereals
Vitamin C- citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, peppers, spinach and cabbage
Vitamin A- leafy greens, yellow vege’s (carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash), yellow fruits (apricots, peaches, cantaloupe)
Iron- meat, poultry, liver, fish, enriched cereals and grains, prunes, dark leafy greens
Zinc- oysters, other seafood, meat, nuts, whole grains
Copper- oysters and other seafood, dried beans and peas, nuts
Birth control pills have many benefits, in particular in preventing pregnancy, as well as menstrual cramps, anemia, ovarian cancer, fibrocystic breast changes, and many PMS symptoms. But for many women, these benefits come with a price. Prevent symptoms by taking a good multivitamin/mineral supplement and eating well. Beyond nutrition, the best advice for women on OC’s is not to smoke.