Studies show that birth control depletes key nutrients

Several studies have shown that hormonal birth control, whether it be oral (i.e., birth control pills), vaginal (i.e., vaginal ring) or transdermal (i.e., patches) deplete the body of several key nutrients.

Nutrients depleted

A study done published in Obstetrics and Gynecology International, August 2010, showed that women that used any of these hormonal birth control measures for at least 4 months had significantly less coenzyme Q10, vitamin E and total antioxidants than women that did not use hormonal birth control.

Other studies have shown that oral contraceptives can deplete many of the B-vitamins, including B6, B12 and folic acid; vitamin C; magnesium; calcium; selenium; and zinc. Any one nutritional deficiency can lead to short and long term health consequences. And considering many people using birth control have a diet that is far from ideal, the problems associated with nutritional deficiency are compounded.

I’m not pregnant, but I am…

Unfortunately, there is a long list of side effects that are common with taking hormonal birth control. Nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain, changes in mood, and breakthrough bleeding are the most common ones. However, one look at the drug index shows a number of other side effects, including blood clots, heart attack, stroke, gallbladder disease, visual disturbances and high blood pressure as well as increased risk of liver cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer. These forms of birth control are effective, but at what cost?

Getting the nutrients you need

A high-nutrient diet is the best prevention for many of these problems. Eating a whole food diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and seeds is important. Eating lots of vegetables along with seeds is the best way to prevent many mineral deficits and also maintain weight.  Extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil should be used daily to provide essential fatty acids that are crucial for hormone balance. Lastly, be sure to get in adequate protein, particularly from cold water fatty fish (not fried) and legumes with a touch of red meat now and then to give the body the building blocks it needs to repair.

Supplementation can also play a role, and should if the diet is or has been deficient. We recommend Wellness Essentials for Women – 1 packet 2x/day with meals along with CoQ10 – 1 softgel 1-2x/day with meals.

The only truly natural form of birth control is abstinence; however, there are other forms of birth control that can be used, such as condoms, which do not cause any biochemical or nutritional imbalances. There are many factors to consider before deciding to take, or continue taking, hormonal birth control. The effect on your nutritional status and your long term health should be one of them.

References and Resources

Abstract: Obstet Gynecol Int. 2010;2010. pii: 925635. Effects of oral, vaginal, and transdermal hormonal contraception on serum levels of coenzyme q(10), vitamin e, and total antioxidant activity.

Palan PR, Strube F, Letko J, Sadikovic A, Mikhail MS.

Full article: Effects of Oral, Vaginal, and Transdermal Hormonal

Contraception on Serum Levels of Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E,and Total Antioxidant Activity