Whether you are taking the pill to manage a health condition or taking it to avoid pregnancy, it is important to know that one of the many side effects that are often overlooked, is nutrient depletion.

Research has shown that women who use the pill, have lower blood levels of specific nutrients compared to women who do not take the pill. By being aware, you can take the most appropriate steps to help compensate, if need be.

So which nutrients can oral contraceptives or “the pill” deplete? Essential vitamins and minerals including B vitamins such as B12, riboflavin, and folic acid along with vitamins C and E and minerals like magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

These nutrients play a big role in fertility, hormonal health, skin, immune support, and amongst many other body functions so it’s crucial to stay on top of your nutrition so that you don’t experience the many effects that come with nutrient deficiencies, especially if you plan to have a family in the near future as it greatly affects reproductive health.

So, what to do? Follow a nutrient-dense eating routine and talk to your healthcare provider about supplementation to see if you really need it. This doesn’t mean supplementing all of these specific nutrients, but it might mean taking a high-quality multivitamin. It just depends, so work with your provider for an individualized care plan.

Here are foods sources of these nutrients:

  • Zinc: shellfish like crab and oysters, meat, legumes, beans, cashews, seeds, eggs, whole grains
  • Selenium: brazil nuts, pork, beef, turkey, fish and shellfish, chicken
  • Magnesium: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, seafood, vegetables like cabbage and brussels sprouts, fruit options such as figs, avocado, and bananas
  • B Vitamins:
    • B2: milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, salmon, lean beef, and pork
    • B6: organ meats, fish, starchy vegetables, fruit
    • B9 (folic acid): dark leafy greens, beans, sunflower seeds, peanuts, seafood, fruit, grains
    • B12: fortified foods, cheese, milk, meat, eggs
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruit, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, potatoes, brussels sprouts
  • Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, pumpkin

If you are thinking about supplementation, consider speaking with a healthcare provider before starting a supplement regimen.

Source: PMID:23852908