• Laura Warren

Just a little Pill, but do you understand its full effect?

A painful period

A female athlete with a busy training schedule

A teenager embarrassed by the acne they have developed

Not wanting to have a baby any time soon


What do all these scenarios have in common???

A very high likelihood of the female in each of them, either being prescribed or already on the 'Pill', or using some other form of hormonal birth control.


I think its hugely important that we are all well aware of the side effects of these seemly non invasive medications and should know full well what we or our teenage girls are putting into their bodies. I see far to many amazing woman now going through immense struggles with fertility and other reproductive health illness that wish like anything someone had told them the consequences of being on hormonal contraceptives for years.

In this blog, I hope to share some light on the side effects you need to be aware of and also foods to eat that can help counterbalance the depletion of nutrients that synthetic contraceptives cause. Yes, this is all well and truly known in the medical and science community. " In particular, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) points out that the influence of Oral Contraceptives on nutrient requirements is a topic of high clinical relevance and should, therefore, receive great attention" (1).



Hormonal balance depends on communication between the brain and the endocrine glands. The brain determines how much hormone the glands produce based on hormone activity in the body.

If you artificially introduce hormones into the body, it tells the brain the body has plenty of that specific hormone. This results, in a “feedback loop” of communication between the brain and the hormone glands to slow down or stop producing those hormones, lowering the body’s natural production.

This is usually the reason symptoms or problems arise when the time comes to go off the pill i.e. the cramping and heavy bleeding you had when you went on the pill for originally has now got significantly worse because the underlying cause of the initial problem was never addressed. Or maybe the pill’s impact on the production of cervical fluid, an essential component of conception means you can't fall pregnant when you decide the time is right.


The pill, rings, injections, implants, patches, and IUD's all bring with them increased risks for a host of problems, including infertility/delayed fertility, depression, hypothyroidism, and nutrient deficiencies, among others. 

While there are safer alternatives to hormonal birth control, you may choose to stay on it for a variety of reasons. Regardless of which form you use, you need to be vigilant about caring for your body, both while you are on birth control and when you choose to discontinue it. 


NUTRIENTS DEPLETED BY HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL AND FOOD SOURCES TO INCLUDE DAILY TO COUNTERACT EFFECT

If you’re on hormonal birth control, adding these foods to a whole food diet can help replace nutrients depleted by your medication (1,2). 


FOLATE

Folate (B9) is important for cell growth and repair, energy metabolism, and prevents neural tube defects in babies as they develop in the womb. 

Quality food sources of folate:

Soaked Beans, Peas and lentils

Liver and other organ meats

Dark Leafy greens

Broccoli

Beetroot

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and helps nourish and repair skin and hair. It also helps to relieve PMS symptoms, and is important for heart health.

Quality Food sources of vitamin E:

Nuts and seeds

Dark leafy greens

Avocado


B VITAMINS

Many of the B vitamins are depleted by hormonal birth control medications. B1, B2, B5, B6, B12 are all affected. B vitamins are vital for energy metabolism, cell growth and repair, brain health and adrenal function.

Quality Food sources of B vitamins:

Pasture raised Beef and Poultry

Liver

Wild caught fish and Seafood

Organic eggs

Dark leafy greens



VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is widely known for its antioxidant and immune boosting activity, but it is also important for tissue repair and adrenal health. 

Quality Food sources of Vitamin C:

Dark leafy greens

Spray free Berries

Brussels sprouts

Parsley

Citrus Fruits


MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is a mineral that is required for over 300 different enzyme reactions. Unfortunately it has been largely depleted from our soils with the advent of industrialized farming. It is vital for mind and muscle relaxation, bone health and reducing helps inflammation.

Quality Food sources of magnesium:

Dark leafy greens

Avocado

Nuts and seeds

Organic yogurt

Dark chocolate and raw cacao powder


SELENIUM

Selenium is a mineral that works as an potent antioxidant. It is vital for thyroid function and therefore a healthy metabolism. 

Quality food sources of selenium:

Brazil nuts

Wild caught tuna, and other fish

Pasture raised Beef and Poultry

Liver and other organ meats

Organic eggs


ZINC

Zinc is a known an element that plays an important roles in over 200 enzyme reactions within our bodies. It is vital for immune function, gut and skin health. 

Top food sources of zinc:

Pasture raised Beef and Poultry

Shellfish

Pumpkin seeds

Beans 


In some cases' particularly times of stress or other illness; food sources of the nutrients may not be enough and I believe that supplementation of certain nutrients maybe the best option alongside a wholefood diet.

If you have any questions or want to talk in more details about this topic please either leave a comment or email laura@revitalizeme.co.nz

References

Palmery, M., et al. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Jul;17(3):1804-13. 

Gottfried, Sara. “Risks of Birth Control Pill: 8 Reasons To Quit and How to Stay Healthier If You Don’t.” Sara Gottfried MD, 2017.

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