Though vitamin levels may be among the last things many of us think of when considering the effects of various birth control methods, I think that the topic of oral contraceptives and their affect on nutrition status is worth discussing, as it’s a memo I never got from my gynecologist.

Taken mainly to prevent pregnancy and regulate women’s menstrual cycles, birth control bills, like many common prescription drugs, can also impact absorption and utilization of certain nutrients in your body. Most notably, they can deplete the body of B6, B12, C, folic acid, magnesium, and zinc. Over time, this can lead to significant deficiencies.

On her blog, Nutrition DataMonica Reinagel, MS, LD/N shares a list of what to eat when you’re taking birth control pills. On her list:

  • Lentils are rich in folic acid and taste great in all kinds of dishes, from veggie burgers to soup!
  • Spinach covers a lot of nutritional bases, offering folic acid, B6 and magnesium plus vitamins A and K.
  • Cashews give you a healthy dose of zinc and magnesium. I like to buy the unsalted variety and to use them in stir-fry and to make homemade larabars. They’re also good on their own.
  • Tomato/Vegetable Juice is a great source of vitamin C that contains half the sugar and calories of OJ. Just watch the sodium content–lots of commercial vegetable juices are loaded, though you can get a low-sodium version.
  • Seafood such as crabs, muscles, clams, and salmon are packed with B12 and zinc.

Other forms of birth control may have other nutritional impacts on the body, so make sure you get the facts from your doctor when deciding which method is right for you and how to make good food choices to keep yourself healthy.

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