The Oral Contraceptive Pill - A blessing or a curse?
Numerous women around the world rely on Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP), whether it be for hormonal regulation or contraception. But what many women don't know, or aren't advised of are the detrimental effects it can have on their health.
This is especially evident for women who are thinking of coming off the pill prior to trying for a baby - it's extremely important that you understand what vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be caused by the OCP, as these stores will need to be replenished before conceiving.
ILL-HEALTH effects of the OCP:
Key nutritional deficiencies associated with oral contraceptive use include:
WHY ARE THESE NUTRIENTS IMPORTANT IF WE WANT TO CONCEIVE?
ZINC: Zinc is an essential metal that is a cofactor for over 300 enzymes in the human body, as well as the proteins that defend us against oxidative stress (Osiecki, 2010, p210). It’s also essential for the proper development of the brain and sexual organs, maintains immune function, has a structural role in the development of respiration and helps the body absorb the B group vitamins (just to name a few important things) (Osiecki, 2010, p210).
SELENIUM: Involved in the maintenance of cellular membranes, protects against chromosomal damage, reduces sepsis in neonates, synergises with sex hormones, stimulates DNA repair, and is essential for healthy thyroid hormones (Osiecki, 2010, p198). A selenium deficiency can result in damage of the foetus’s immune and nervous system, and is associated with low birth weight (Pieczynska & Grajeta, 2015).
MAGNESIUM: Required for DNA stabilization and promotes DNA transcription and replication, and is a cofactor to many enzymes in the body including the production of energy and is essential for bone structure (Osiecki, 2010, p182).
VITAMIN E: vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that is also essential for immune modulation, to maintain the integrity of lipid membranes, regulates the synthesis of sex hormones, stabilizes normal growth maintenance (Osiecki, 2010, p78), and deficiencies have been associated with preterm births (Institute of Medicine, 1990).
VITAMIN C: Required for the formation of blood cells, the growth of bones and teeth, collagen synthesis, essential for the integrity of connective tissue and the maintenance of cell membranes (Osiecki, 2010, p65).
VITAMIN B12 (COBALAMIN): Essential for the normal growth and development of the peripheral and central nervous system, bone marrow, skin, bones, mucous membranes and blood vessels; it’s also required for the biosynthesis of DNA and protein and blood cells (Osiecki, 2010, p49).
VITAMIN B6 (Pyridoxine): B6 is essential for the development of the nervous system and neurotransmitter synthesis, thus making it an essential nutrient during pregnancy (Osiecki, 2010, p45).
VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN): Required for the growth and development of the foetus, the maintenance of epithelial and eye tissues, as well as the maintenance of mucosa and myelin sheath (Osiecki, 2010, p33).
FOLATE: Required for the differentiation of embryonic tissue including nervous tissue, required for healthy formation of the neural tube, DNA growth, reduces the expression of chromosomal mutations and is required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, choline and noradrenaline (Osiecki, 2010, p89).
If you're thinking of coming off the pill for various reasons, check in with a Naturopath, Nutritionist or GP/healthcare practitioner to discuss the important steps you can take to help support your body during this process, as well as prepare you for pregnancy.
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