Millions of women take the birth control pill for years – and in some cases decades. Yet very few of them know all the side effects of taking them. I was one of those women.
And like many of these women, I was never told the impacts it could have on my body. When I walked out of the doctor’s office, I had no idea that the pill can alter your gut microbiome, increase intestinal permeability, impact how your liver functions and contribute/lead to hormonal imbalances.
In the medical community, the nutrient depletions caused by the pill aren’t new information. It’s been discussed for close to 50 years. Yet most women are never filled in on the vitamins and minerals the pill impacts, so let’s go through them together.
The B vitamins often referred to as B-complex vitamins, are made up of 8 nutrients. They have a number of important functions in the body, including:
When it comes to the pill, B2, B6 and B12 are impacted.
Also known as riboflavin, B2 acts as a disease-fighting antioxidant and helps produce red blood cells. It’s also an important part of converting B6 and folate into usable forms in the body. As well, riboflavin is involved in the metabolism of fats and drugs.
Vitamin B6 (aka pyridoxine) keeps the nervous and immune systems healthy. Also plays a key role in helping make amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), regulating blood glucose and the formation of hemoglobin.
Vitamin B12 contains the trace element, cobalt, and is also known as cobalamin. It has the largest and most complex chemical structure in comparison to all other vitamins. It plays a crucial role in nerve function, cellular energy, red blood cell formation, production of DNA and supports the adrenal glands.
Also known as asorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body that promote disease and aging. It’s also involved in collagen synthesis, immune function and the metabolism of protein.
A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E is a group of eight nutrients – four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Considered a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s another potent antioxidant for the body. It supports skin health, reduces PMS symptoms and supports the immune system.
Magnesium is a mineral that’s involved in over 300 reactions in the body. It’s important for muscle contractions, nerve transmission, and enables energy production. This electrolyte also helps to control inflammation, promote strong bones and alleviate PMS symptoms.
An important dietary mineral, selenium also provides antioxidant protection in the body. It supports normal thyroid function, has antiviral properties and helps boost fertility.
Rounding out the antioxidant list, zinc also helps fight oxidative stress in the body. It boosts immune function, promotes wound healing and plays a role in hormone production. Zinc is also important for the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein synthesis.
Ideally, we’d be getting our nutrients from food as the body easily recognizes the nutrients and absorbs them well. In addition, there are nutrient cofactors present in the food to enhance absorption.
However, multivitamins can provide additional support by helping fill in nutritional gaps and correcting deficiencies. They come in a multitude of options to support different nutritional needs (ie. sex, age, stage of life, etc). As with any supplement, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable practitioner that can make a correct recommendation for your body and health history.
For our clients in The Clear Skin Solution, we encourage the use of high-quality supplements made with methylated/activated forms of the B complex vitamins and bioavailable minerals – and avoid the use of cheap synthetic nutrients that are poorly absorbed.
A few brands we use often are Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, and Nutritional Fundamentals for Health (NFH). You can access our online dispensary here (Canada) and here (US). Pro tip: consider a prenatal as they often have higher levels of B vitamins.