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New research from UK National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) has revealed that many women are unaware of the potential negative effects the regular use of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), can have on your mineral and vitamin status, especially with nutrient deficiencies being linked to a host of health issues.

A review of the literature indicates that OCPs may deplete the levels of B-Vitamins – in particular Vitamin B6 – as well as Vitamin C and key minerals including Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc. Because of these potentially harmful depletions, women should ensure adequate intake of these minerals and vitamins through dietary intake or supplementation to prevent possible deficiency caused by regular OCP or HRT usage.

What nutrients could be depleted by OCPs or HRT and what impact could these deficiencies have on our overall health and wellbeing?

Magnesium

Researchers know that oestrogens from OCP use can lower levels of magnesium in the blood by increasing uptake in the bones and soft tissues. The depletion of magnesium can subsequently alter the ratio of calcium/magnesium ratio which in turn can negatively affect bone density.

Vitamin C

It is thought that synthetic oestrogens can increase vitamin C metabolism, and it’s been reported that the use of the OCPs & HRT reduce the levels of this essential vitamin for its antioxidant and immune supporting activity.

Vitamin B6

Some reports suggest that even those using modern lower-dose OCPs or HRT may need additional supplementation to get an optimal vitamin B6 status as lower levels of vitamin B6 may contribute to associated side effects such as:

  • Low Mood
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue

Zinc

A recent systematic review concluded “a decrease in the serum concentrations of zinc, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium have been reported in OCP users with reductions proportional to the duration of contraceptive use,” suggesting supplementation might be warranted while taking OCPs over prolonged periods of time.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is synthesised in our bodies from sunlight and plays a huge role in maintaining good health, particularly musculoskeletal health. A key problem is that the main source of vitamin D is sunshine rather than from food – even in a healthy diet it’s hard to get the recommended amounts of the vitamin. In the UK & Ireland we often have poor levels of sunshine, especially in the autumn and winter months, and this can leave the body depleted of this key nutrient. It is important to maintain healthy levels while taking OCPs or HRT as vitamin D works very closely with magnesium to ensure proper assimilation in the body.

What’s the solution?

Many women do not get enough nutrients from diet alone, in part due to factors such as soil depletion, convenience foods and fad diets. It is advisable to consider supplementing with a highly bioavailable multi-nutrient complex such as MAG365 BF, which contains Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Zinc and Potassium, alongside your daily OCP or HRT. This could help alleviate potential deficiencies and reduce any of the negative impact of long- term pharmaceutical use.

Although these micronutrients are commonly present in many foods, research highlights issues with bioavailability due to differences in storage, processing and cooking, which can result in a reduction of their concentration and quality, so more often than not supplementation is a wise option for optimal health.


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