Estrogen -- a cholesterol-based sex hormone -- plays a role in a number of physiological processes. The hormone helps to prepare a woman's body for pregnancy; promotes sexual maturity; and also sends signals to a number of other tissues, including your bones and brain. Some nutrients from your diet, such as vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, can have an effect on your body's estrogen level.
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Vitamin C's Effect on Estrogen
Vitamin C appears to have a positive effect on estrogen levels in your body. Consuming adequate vitamin C promotes proper estrogen production, whereas individuals with a vitamin C deficiency might experience lower estrogen levels. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that vitamin C supplements can enhance the estrogen-boosting effects of hormone replacement therapies, potentially causing a drastic increase in estrogen in individuals who previously suffered from a vitamin C deficiency.
Estrogen's Effect on Vitamin C
While supplemental vitamin C can increase estrogen levels in your body, the presence of estrogen can also affect the activity and level of vitamin C. A study published in "Ann Univ Mariae Curie Sklodowska" in 2004 studied the effect of estrogen supplements on vitamin C levels in rats. The study found that receiving estrogen injections depleted the rats' vitamin C stores, indicating that estrogen injections might increase the risk of a vitamin C deficiency. However, the effect of estrogen on vitamin C requires additional investigation, including studies conducted in humans.
Effect on Bone Development
Both estrogen and vitamin C signal to osteoblasts, the bone progenitor cells that give rise to new bone tissue. A study published in "The Journal of Surgical Research" in 2010 indicates that vitamin C works in conjunction with estrogen signalling to promote osteoblast development, indicating that vitamin C and estrogen might promote new bone growth. This interaction might prove important in post-menopausal women, who face an increased risk of osteoporosis due to low estrogen levels.
Effect on Birth Control
The effect of vitamin C on estrogen level might also alter the efficacy of some medications, such as oral contraceptives. Many birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone, which work together to regulate ovulation and prevent pregnancy. Consuming vitamin C supplements might increase your estrogen levels, decreasing the effectiveness of birth control pills. Though the specific effects of vitamin C on oral contraceptive efficacy are not yet fully understood, vitamin overdoses might increase your risk of pregnancy when taking birth control pills. Talk to your doctor about the safety of taking vitamin supplements in conjunction with the pill.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Ann Univ Mariae Curie Sklodowska: The Influence of Sex Hormones and Vitamin E on Ascorbic Acid Concentration in Rat Tissues
- The Journal of Surgical Research: The Effects of Dexamethasone, Ascorbic Acid, and β-Glycerophosphate on Osteoblastic Differentiation by Regulating Estrogen Receptor and Osteopontin Expression
- Go Ask Alice!: Vitamin C Supplements and Birth Control Effectiveness?