The majority of women have taken oral contraceptives at some point.  oral contraceptivesThe current stats indicate that over 12 million women in the United States and over 100 million women worldwide take oral contraceptives.

I was one of those women who chose not to.  I had done too much research that showed that the old contraceptives could cause too many types of cancer…

But since those days, we have come a long ways…or have we?

Like most pharmaceuticals, oral contraceptives deplete nutrients in the body.  Women taking oral contraceptives show lower levels of :

Vitamin Bs, C & E: 

  • B1:
    • can cause depression, memory loss, muscle weakness, swelling in the extremities and irritability and the formation of ATP (fuel for the cells)
  • B2:
    • can affect the skin, eyes, mucous membranes and nerves and the formation of ATP (fuel for the cells)
  • B3:
    • affects the metabolism of tryptophan (leading to depression / anxiety).
  • B6:
    •  depletion can cause depression and insomnia; also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • B9 (Folic acid):
    • depletion can cause some serious health problems in women leading to anemia, elevated homocysteine (resulting in risk of cardiovascular disease), headache, depression, fatigue, insomnia, hair loss and increased infections. While not necessarily a causal relationship, there is also a correlation with higher rates of cervical dysplasia (abnormal PAP tests) with folic acid deficiency. Both folic acid and vitamin B12 can be reduced by up to 40% in women who use oral contraceptives
  • B12 :
    • depletion causes anemia which results in fatigue, weakness and numbness and tingling in the hands and feed. Deficiency in vitamin B12 is also associated with depression. If deficiencies are not corrected, long-term irreversible neurological damage can occur.
  • Vitamin C :
    • Deficiency can weaken the immune system,
    • accelerate aging due to increased free radical damage
    • may also be associated with the development of glaucoma and cataracts
  • Vitamin E:
    • deficiencies can cause:  myopathies (muscular diseases); peripheral neuropathy damage to peripheral nerve system); skeletal myopathy; retinopathy diseases of the eye); red blood cell destruction and decreased immune system response
  • Magnesium;
    • Magnesium is required for over 380 known basic cell functions in every cell of the body including formation of ATP (fuel for the cells)
    • Deficiency is associated with muscle cramps
    • if severe can cause cardiac arrhythmias and high blood pressure
    • asthmatics with low magnesium have more frequent and more severe asthma attacks
    • magnesium depletion alters the calcium/magnesium ratio which can affect blood coagulability & thus increase risk of thrombosis
  • Selenium:
    • selenium is an important antioxidant
    • deficiency can increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • Zinc (zinc falls as copper rises)
    • deficiency also affects immune system function;
    • can cause slow wound healing;
    • can also cause insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes)
    • can cause loss of smell and taste
    • is also associated with infertility and sexual dysfunction in both women and men
      • Note: other compounds may rise causing other issues
      • iron

In addition, they suffer various health problems due to the lack of these nutrients, such as:

  • anemia
  • birth defects
  • cancers:  colon, uterus and breast
  • circulatory issues:  blood clots and vascular symptoms
  • depression, emotional swings
  • diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal issues:  liver issues
  • headaches
  • heart attacks, strokes, blood clots
  • immune system issues
  • low energy, fatigue
  • sleep disorders
  • weight issues

So a few suggestions for those who insist on taking these pharmaceuticals are:

  • increase your intake of antioxidants, especially glutathione
  • increase intake of Vitamin B Complex
  • increase intake of Vitamins C and E
  • increase intake of minerals:  magnesium, selenium
  • **beta-carotene, can help reduce potential toxicity of oral contraceptives
  • Herbs, like milk thistle, contains silymarin and may be especially helpful to the liver

Remember to find a good health practitioner.  Not someone who is simply taught to prescribe medications to manage symptoms.

Be responsible, do your research, find a good health practitioner.

Here’s to your health!

For more information, contact: Dr Holly at holly@choicesunlimited.ca

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References

http://www.leaflady.org/bcpillnutrition.htm

http://annapurnanaturopathic.com/blog/2010/11/08/nutrient-depletions-from-oral-contraceptives/

Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook (Lexi-Comp, 1999) by Ross Pelton, Ph.D., C.N.; James B. LaValle, N.D., C.N., D.H.M.; Ernest B. Hawkins; and Daniel L. Krinsky

The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs (How to maintain good nutrition while using prescription drugs) by Ross Pelton, Rh.D. and James LaVaIIe, Rh. D