Many women use the birth control pill as their form of contraception. Reliance on a daily medication often provokes questions and concerns about what impact the drug has on a consumer’s health and nutrition. Information about oral contraceptives can help a patient decide what supplements to take and what food to eat in order to maintain her physical well being.
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There is some question as to whether women on the birth control pill need more vitamin B-6 than other women. According to the ClinicalTrials.gov website at U.S. National Institutes of Health, this question is currently being researched at the University of Florida. Women on oral contraceptives may elect to take vitamin B-6 supplements until the issue is settled. The recommended intake for non-lactating adult women is 1.3 mg per day. Mary L. Hardy and Debra L. Gordon, authors of “Best Remedies: Breakthrough Prescriptions That Blend Conventional and Natural Medicine” caution readers not to take more than 100 mg of vitamin B-6 per day.
Colorado State University Extension foods and nutrition specialist J. E. Anderson writes that any woman with inadequate levels of riboflavin will exacerbate the situation by taking oral contraceptives. The recommended intake for non-lactating adult women ranges between 1.2 and 1.3 mg per day, according to the book, “Solve It with Supplements: The Best Herbal and Nutritional Supplements to Help Prevent and Heal More than 100 Common Health Problems.” Riboflavin, or vitamin B-2, can be found naturally in almonds and other nuts, brewer’s yeast, calf liver, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, enriched cereal, enriched grains, fish or other seafood, meat, dried or fresh milk, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, organ meats, poultry, wheat germ, and wild rice.
On its website the Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute states that a woman who takes birth control pills containing estrogen will decrease the amount of vitamin C she has in her body. People must get vitamin C through diet or supplementation. The recommended intake for non-lactating adult women is 75 mg per day, says the Linus Pauling Institute. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, citrus fruits and juices, collard greens, green bell peppers, guava, kale, kiwi, parsley, pineapple, red bell peppers, red chili peppers, spinach, strawberries and other red berries, tomatoes, and turnip greens are all rich in vitamin C.
Hardy and Gordon maintain that those who take oral contraceptives lose folic acid as a result. They advise women on the birth control pill to take between 400 and 800 mcg of folic acid each day.
During their childbearing years, women typically lose blood on a monthly basis and as a result also lose iron. Women on the birth control pill often find that they have lighter periods and some women who take oral contraceptives menstruate less frequently. The National Academy of Science recommends a lower daily intake of iron for menstruating women on the birth control pill than for menstruating women who are not taking oral contraception. The recommended intake for adult women on the pill is 10.9 mg per day, according to the book, “Staying Healthy with Nutrition.”
- U.S. National Institutes of Health: Clinical Trials.gov: Vitamin B6 Effects for Women Taking Birth Control Pills
- Colorado State University Extension: Nutrition and Oral Contraceptives
- Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine”; Elson M. Haas and Buck Levin; 2006
- MedlinePlus: Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health: Vitamin C
- “Solve it With Supplements: The Best Herbal and Nutritional Supplements to Prevent and Heal More Than 100 Common Problems”; Robert A. Schulman, M.D.; 2008