Reviewed by

Morgane Leten - Nutrition & Fertility Coach


Why You Need a Supplement When You’re On the Pill

Reviewed by

Morgane Leten - Nutrition & Fertility Coach

We all know a drain. Drains are people in your life who leave you feeling completely exhausted after hanging out with them. Maybe you started off feeling bright and cheerful, but after a few hours, you feel dull and negative, maybe even frustrated or grumpy. Sound familiar?

Well, that’s kind of what the pill does to your body.

The pill robs your body of important vitamins and minerals so it’s important that you know how to combat this. Your best defence? A birth control supplement help you prevent deficiencies and keep your hormonal health on track.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you all about it:

  • Facts about the pill

  • How the pill robs your body of vitamins and minerals

  • The impact of deficiencies

  • Side effects according to the pill packet insert

  • Guud supplements that help fight deficiencies

Here’s a few things we know:

If you exercise, you should eat enough protein.

If you go out in the sun, you need to wear sun cream.

When you are pregnant, you need to take folic acid.

And if you take the pill, then…. What?

Our bet is that no one – not even your doctor – has told you that your body is missing out on important vitamins and minerals when you take the pill. Studies have shown that this is a common side effect and yet, so many of us are completely in the dark.

Facts about the pill

The pill was invented in 1962 by the American biologist Gregory Pincus. It was a big deal because it marked the beginning of a time when women were finally in control of their bodies and their lives in a way they never were before.

The pill is the most used contraception in the world, and it is used by an estimated 150-200 million women worldwide.

If you take the pill, you do not have a natural cycle with natural hormonal patterns such as ovulation.

Historically, the pill was routinely prescribed to women with very little information about how it worked or the impact it might have on their body. In fact, many women still believe there is no impact at all. But today, the side effects are starting to become more well known, such as the use of birth control and a possible vitamin deficiency. 

Among the many side effects, some of the more common ones are a lower sex drive and a risk of all sorts of disorders due to deficiencies in critical vitamins and minerals.

Also, did you know that the pill is linked to feelings of depression? About 1 in 10 women suffer from negative feelings because of the pill!

Read more about: How birth controls works

The Pill: Thief of vitamins and minerals

Like many women, you might have started taking the pill when you were just a teenager. You also might have stayed on the pill for most of your fertile life. Perhaps you are still taking the pill today. Here’s what you need to know about vitamins to take while on birth control. The pill regulates your hormones so you can’t get pregnant. It does this by creating chemical versions of your body’s natural hormones. Your body recognises that these hormones are “fake” and as a result, your liver rejects them.

To process all the extra hormones from the pill, your liver has to work extra hard and as a result, it needs extra fuel. If your liver is not getting what it needs, you will become deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. When this happens, you might experience a variety of symptoms like acne or depression which are usually just lumped into one of the many possible side effects of taking the pill. And, because they are considered “normal” side effects, we just accept them as part of our lives. Feeling tired, irritable, and listless becomes the new normal. 

But what many doctors don’t tell you is that a lot of the side effects can be fixed through good nutrition and high-quality supplements that help replace the vitamins and minerals you’re losing.

How the pill changes your body

The pill changes your intestinal flora, the acidity and the contents of your intestines. As a result, your body can’t absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals as well.

When you’re taking the pill, your liver also makes more enzymes to break down all the hormones. The more enzymes you have, the faster nutrients are excreted through your intestines and kidneys. Sometimes, this happens so quickly that your body can’t absorb all the nutrients it would normally get. Vitamins to take while on birth control may vary from person to person, but they can be beneficial for everyone. 

When you’re on the pill, the way your kidneys excrete things is different from normal. For example, vitamin B is excreted much faster than usual and this can sometimes lead to a deficiency.

What Happens When You Have a Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency?

If you’re on the pill, do you notice things like mood swings or serious tiredness? Maybe you just feel dull? This can be due to hormones, but it can also be because of a lack of nutrients. Research shows that the nutrients that most women lack when taking the pill include vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and zinc. These can all be replaced by taking vitamins while on birth control. 

Here are some of the side effects if you’re deficient in any of these critical nutrients:

Vitamin B2 deficiency

Vitamin B2 helps provide your body with energy. If you have a deficiency in vitamin B2 you might experience tiredness, skin and eye problems.

Vitamin B6 deficiency

Vitamin B6 is important for your metabolism and it helps regulate certain hormones. A deficiency in this vitamin manifests itself as anaemia, nervous disorders and a weakened immune system.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin and works in a bit more complicated way than other B vitamins. In short, vitamin B12 helps with the production of red blood cells. A deficiency can cause many issues including psychological and neurological problems as well as physical problems such as fatigue, menstrual problems and intestinal problems.

Vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin C is an antioxidant (which helps prevent cell aging). It helps your body resist illnesses, and it ensures that your body can absorb iron. A deficiency can result in a lower ability to fight off illness and it can actually make wounds heal more slowly.

Vitamin E deficiency

Vitamin E, like Vitamin C, is an antioxidant and protects your cells, blood vessels, organs, eyes and tissue. A deficiency can lead to anaemia, brain disorders, weak muscles and a weakened immune system.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is an important mineral. It regulates many things in your body such as converting food into energy. It also takes care of the heart and blood vessels, bones, and plays a role in fighting inflammation. Deficiencies can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, listlessness, and poor health of the heart, blood vessels and bone tissue.

Selenium Deficiency

Selenium is a mineral. It supports your immune system, protects your body against free radicals (nasty substances that occur during the breakdown of nutrients in your body), and helps your thyroid to do its job properly. A deficiency manifests itself as hair loss, lowered resistance to illness, fatigue, concentration problems, fertility problems and an underactive thyroid.

Zinc deficiency

Zinc is another important mineral that provides countless body processes such as brain functions (cognition, behaviour, mood), the immune system, metabolism, fertility and much more. Deficiencies can cause all kinds of complaints such as fatigue, skin disorders, reduced resistance to illness emotional and mental problems.

Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid is a powerhouse vitamin involved in pretty much everything. It is necessary to produce red blood cells and for the functioning of the nerves. It’s also important for the development of the nervous system of an unborn baby which is why women are routinely told to take a supplement containing folic acid if they are pregnant. A deficiency can lead to anaemia, intestinal disorders, fatigue, depression and birth defects.

The side effects according to the pill package insert

If you look closely at the package insert of any contraceptive pill, you will see that a striking number of vague, but common side effects resemble the above-mentioned vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Hmmm….

Common side effects (affects 1 to 10 people in 100):

  • Depression

  • Mood changes

  • Headaches

  • Nausea and abdominal pain

  • Breast pain, breast tenderness

  • Weight gain

Uncommon side effects (affects 1 to 10 people in 1,000)

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Migraines

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

  • Skin rashes including rashes with severe itching or bumps

  • Increase in breast size

  • Fluid retention

Choosing and using supplements

If you decide to take a supplement, it's important to:

  • Read the label. Product labels can tell you what the active ingredient or ingredients are, which nutrients are included, the serving size, and the amount of nutrients in each serving.
  • Avoid megadoses. You might think more vitamins = more positive benefits, but taking more than the recommended daily values can increase your risk of side effects.
  • Pay attention to your diet. Vitamins and minerals are often added to foods, including breakfast cereals and some drinks. If you're also taking supplements, you may be getting more than you need and this can be expensive or lead to weird side effects. 

Supplements that help fight deficiencies

Vitamins and minerals are best obtained from food, but if you are deficient, dietary supplements can provide support in maintaining your health and well-being. Supplements should be used daily during 3-6 months for best results in combination with a balanced lifestyle.

Still have questions? Talk to us! We’re here for you and we want to help. You deserve to feel Guud every day of the month.