Does Taking Vitamins Affect Birth Control?

Birth control pills are an essential medication for many women who wish to avoid pregnancy or delay it until they're ready to start a family. The effectiveness of birth control pills depends on several factors, such as taking them at the same time each day.

The effectiveness of birth control pills depends on several factors. (Image: PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/GettyImages)

Some medications, including certain antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-seizure drugs, can interfere with birth control pills and decrease their effectiveness, and certain vitamins may do the same. On the other hand, birth control pills may interfere with vitamin absorption as well.

Talk to your doctor about any vitamins, medicines or herbal supplements you're taking before starting on birth control pills.

Tip

Birth control pills may affect vitamin absorption, and certain vitamins may interfere with how well your birth control medication works.

Birth Control 101

Birth control pills prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, which occurs 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.

Because of the delicate hormonal balance created with oral contraceptives, certain medications, supplements and vitamins can impede the normal functioning of birth control pills. Though most vitamins are safe to take with birth control pills, vitamin C may pose a problem. The pills themselves can contribute to certain nutritional deficiencies as well.

Skip the Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a role in the functioning of the immune system and helps keep your skin, teeth, gums and nerves healthy and working normally. Columbia University's Go Ask Alice! suggests that high doses of vitamin C may interfere with birth control pills. This is because vitamin C can cause your estrogen levels to rise.

In addition to vitamin C possibly hindering the normal functioning of your birth control pills, the pills themselves can interfere with your body's ability to absorb the vitamin. Taking your oral contraceptive and vitamin C supplement several hours apart may help to reduce this negative effect, but always talk to your doctor before you make these types of changes.

Elevated Vitamin Levels

Taking birth control pills can cause your body 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 may have higher levels of vitamin A.

As a result, taking a vitamin A supplement may lead to toxicity. Somer also suggests that although they're not vitamins, copper and iron levels may also be elevated by birth control pills.

Birth Control and Nutritional Deficiencies

Oral contraceptives can cause you to become deficient in certain vitamins as well, Somer notes in her book. One example is vitamin B6. According to Somer, birth control pills can cause a decreased level of vitamin B6, which can lead to mood problems.

Women who take birth control pills might also be deficient in folic acid and vitamins B1, B2 and E. If you're taking birth control pills, Somer recommends talking to your doctor about taking supplements of these vitamins to keep your levels normal and healthy.

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