Birth control pills are an essential medication for many women who wish to delay pregnancy until they are ready to start a family. The effectiveness of birth control pills depends on several factors, including taking them at the same time each day and notifying your doctor of any other medications or supplements you take. Certain medications can interfere with birth control pills and decrease their effectiveness, and certain vitamins can do the same. The birth control pills might interfere with vitamin absorption, as well. Always tell your doctor about any vitamins you take before starting on birth control pills.
Birth Control 101
Birth control pills prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, which is when an egg is released from a woman's ovary. The pills usually include estrogen and progestin, which are hormones that prevent ovulation. Without an egg being released, pregnancy can't take place, notes the University of Colorado Extension. Because of the delicate hormone balance created with oral contraceptives, certain medications, supplements and vitamins can interfere with the normal function of the birth control pills. Though most vitamins are safe to take with birth control pills, vitamin C can interfere with them, and the pills themselves can contribute to certain nutritional deficiencies as well.
Vitamin C plays a role in the function of your immune system and helps keep your skin, teeth, gums and nerves healthy and working normally. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends not taking vitamin C supplements at all if you also take oral contraceptives. This is because vitamin C can cause your estrogen levels to increase. While the vitamin doesn't necessarily interfere with the normal function of your birth control pills, the pills themselves can interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamin C. Taking your oral contraceptive and vitamin C supplement several hours apart can reduce this negative effect, but always talk to your doctor beforehand.
Elevated Vitamin Levels
Taking birth control pills can cause you to store higher levels of certain vitamins, according to Elizabeth Somer, author of "Nutrition for Women: How Eating Right Can Help You Look and Feel Your Best." For example, women who take oral contraceptives can have higher levels of vitamin A. As a result, taking a supplement that includes vitamin A can lead to toxicity. Though not vitamins, birth control pills can also cause an elevated level of copper and iron, Somer notes.
Birth Control and Nutritional Deficiencies
Oral contraceptives can cause you to become deficient in certain vitamins, as well, Somer notes in "Nutrition for Women." One example is vitamin B-6. According to Somer, birth control pills can cause a decreased level of vitamin B-6, which can lead to mood problems. Women who take birth control pills might also be deficient in folic acid and vitamins B-1, B-2 and E. If you're taking birth control pills, talk to your doctor about taking supplements of these vitamins to keep your levels normal and healthy, Somer recommends.