On the Pill? What You Need to Be Eating

written by Skye Sherman - Dec 5, 2022

Photo Credit: by picjumbo.com, Pexels.com
Photo Credit: by picjumbo.com, Pexels.com

Millions of women around the world take birth control. Going on the pill is a common way to prevent pregnancy and can help alleviate the symptoms of some conditions, too, such as endometriosis.

But did you know that hormonal contraception of any type can affect your micronutrient profile? You might not think you need to go on a specific diet if you’re on birth control, but it can be a wise idea to do a little research and eat accordingly. In this article, we’ll take a look at what to eat if you’re on birth control (and why).

Note that this applies to anyone on hormonal birth control! This includes the IUD as well as the pill. It’s a common misconception that the IUD provides only localized hormones. The truth is that because we have sex hormone receptors all over our bodies, including many on our brains, it is not possible to dose the uterus with localized hormones that do not affect the rest of the body as well.

For this reason, eating a targeted diet is a good idea whether you’re on the pill, the implant, the IUD, or any other kind of hormonal contraception. You might be deficient in certain nutrients from taking hormonal birth control, so read on for dietary sources of these nutrients and consider talking to your doctor about the potential need for supplements as well.

Nutrients depleted by birth control

The main reason you need to eat a nourishing diet while on birth control is because birth control is known to deplete certain nutrients in the body.

A study published in PubMed reports, “It has been shown that the key nutrient depletions concern folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc. Most research has focused on the levels of these vitamins and minerals in the blood of women who take OCs compared to women who do not.”

The study goes on to say that because some women may not have an adequate diet or a healthy lifestyle, they may need to take the appropriate supplements as recommended by their medical professional. If you’re not sure whether your vitamin and mineral levels are satisfactory, reach out to your doctor, who can suggest blood or urine tests that may be beneficial depending on your symptoms or unique health status.

According to Scientific American, birth control is a “prescription medication used by more than 10 million women in the U.S.” so obviously it’s important information for all women to consider. The article continues, “Birth control pills can deplete your body of several B vitamins (riboflavin, B6, B12, and folic acid), vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc. And because contraceptives are often taken over extended periods of time, even subtle effects could add up.”

You already know you might be able to cook your way to better mental health. So it shouldn’t surprise you that eating right and taking supplements to boost Vitamin B, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and other nutrients your body may be lacking due to birth control is a necessary part of being on this medication, whether you knew this previously or not.

As you can see, if you’re on birth control, you need to consider supplementing or eating good dietary sources of vitamins and minerals including B, C, and E vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. But where exactly can these nutrients be found in food? We’ll take a look.

Dietary sources of B vitamins and folic acid

B vitamins and folic acid go hand in hand. There are many different types of B vitamins, but the main ones depleted by birth control hormones are B6 and B12. Both are involved in the body’s production and use of energy, so they make a big difference in how you feel and act every day!

While “You should be able to get all the vitamin B6 you need from your daily diet,” according to the National Health Service, vegans may be at special risk of not getting enough B12 because of the main places this vitamin is found. The NHS reports, “If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet. But as vitamin B12 is not found naturally in foods such as fruit, vegetables, and grains, vegans may not get enough of it.”

The NHS also shares that vitamin B6 is “found in a wide variety of foods, including:

* pork

* poultry, such as chicken or turkey

* some fish

* peanuts

* soya beans

* wheatgerm

* oats

* bananas

* milk

* some fortified breakfast cereals.”

Similarly, good sources of dietary B12 are:

* meat

* fish

* milk

* cheese

* eggs

* some fortified breakfast cereals

If you’re eating a balanced diet that includes eggs, meat, wheat, and bananas, you should be on the road to a healthy vitamin B supply, even if you’re on the pill. Some of these foods are good sources of folic acid as well, including leafy greens, vegetables, chickpeas and kidney beans, and breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid. Still, some people opt for B12 injections to keep their levels high and thriving.

Dietary sources of vitamin C

You probably hear a lot about vitamin C when flu season rolls around, but it’s important all year long, especially if you are on a hormonal form of birth control! This vitamin is essential for optimal health and functioning.

The Harvard School of Public Health explains, “Vitamin C plays a role in controlling infections and healing wounds, and is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals. It is needed to make collagen, a fibrous protein in connective tissue that is weaved throughout various systems in the body: nervous, immune, bone, cartilage, blood, and others. The vitamin helps make several hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain and nerves.”

Luckily, there are many delicious ways to get your daily dose of vitamin C! Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, and many delicious foods are packed with it, including citrus (oranges, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit), bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, and even white potatoes.

However, it’s important to note that “Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that it dissolves in water and is delivered to the body’s tissues but is not well stored, so it must be taken daily through food or supplements.”

Getting a healthy dose of vitamin C in your daily diet is a must. Aside from getting plenty of vitamin C in your diet, there are delicious vitamin C effervescent tablets that you can dissolve into your drinks for a fizzy and flavorful way to load up on this important vitamin.

Dietary sources of vitamin E

Vitamin E is another one with antioxidant properties. However, its main role is a bit different from the role of vitamin C.

As Medical News Today explains, “Getting enough vitamin E is essential for the immune system, blood vessel health, and keeping the skin youthful. There are eight distinct forms of vitamin E, but researchers believe that only one type, alpha-tocopherol, helps meet human nutritional needs.”

Because many foods contain vitamin E, most people get enough of this vitamin naturally in their daily diet through eating things like nuts, seeds, some oils, dark green vegetables, a few fruits, and some types of seafood.

The below foods are especially rich in vitamin E:

* Sunflower seeds

* Almonds

* Peanuts

* Oils

* Avocados

* Spinach

* Swiss chard

* Butternut squash

* Beet greens

* Trout

If you make a delicious salad, this can be a great way to dose your body with a yummy vitamin E bomb! However, keep your E levels in check because it is possible to have too much vitamin E in your system. Also keep in mind that it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, so consume vitamin E foods with a fat in order to improve how well it is absorbed.

Dietary sources of minerals

Minerals are another health matter that you may not think much about, but they play a crucial role in your body’s functioning and how you feel.

As Healthline puts it, “Minerals are elements that are found in the earth and food and essential to life. For example, minerals are needed for heart and brain function, as well as the production of hormones and enzymes.”

Your heart health and brain function are the main control centers of your entire body, so you always want them working in tip-top shape! However, the minerals especially pertinent to the hormonal contraception discussion are magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Because being on the pill (or the implant, shot, or IUD) can deplete your body of these minerals especially, it’s important to make sure you’re consuming a healthy amount in your daily diet or through your supplementation regimen.

Many foods are rich in minerals, but nuts and seeds are perhaps the best and most concentrated source. Healthline points out: “Certain nuts and seeds stand out for their mineral content. For example, just one Brazil nut provides 174% of your daily selenium needs, while a 1/4-cup (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds delivers 40% of your daily magnesium needs.”

Other foods with high mineral content include shellfish, cruciferous vegetables, organ meats, eggs, beans, cocoa, avocados, berries, yogurt, cheese, sardines, spirulina, ancient grains, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, and tropical fruits.

Sprinkle some nuts and seeds to the top of your salad for an added crunch and the nutritional benefits that go along with it!



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While the above article is based on thorough research, we do not claim to offer a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. The article was written for information and educational purposes only. We aim to provide helpful information to our readers, but cannot provide a treatment, diagnosis, or consultation of any sort, and we are in no way indicating that any particular drug is safe or appropriate for you and your individual needs. To receive professional medical attention, you must see a doctor.