Three key nutrients depleted by the pill

July 13, 2015 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

oral contraceptive chiropractic

There has been evidence accumulating over the years that certain nutrients may become depleted while a woman is on an oral contraceptive1.

While there are likely dozens of nutrients that are important in maintaining fertility and the monthly cycle, there are a few in particular that are extremely important in supporting the menstrual cycle.


Zinc is a critical nutrient to consider. Many healthcare providers recommend an increase in zinc intake for females on oral contraception or struggling with loss of menstruation following the use of the pill. There is evidence demonstrating that women who take oral contraceptives have lower plasma zinc levels2. Some healthcare practitioners theorise that taking oral contraception might either cause zinc deficiency or copper overload, which could contribute to the loss of healthy menstrual function.

Zinc can be sometimes difficult to replenish without short term therapeutic supplementation, even in the context of a whole foods diet. If you’re willing to eat lots of shellfish (oysters and clams), red meat, pumpkin seeds and poultry, you may be able to avoid supplementing with zinc. 15-30mg of zinc per day is recommended for someone with post birth control syndrome. If you do supplement, be sure to take it with a meal otherwise you may get sudden, intense nausea.

Further reading: Consequences of zinc deficiency



While many in the healthcare community feel that everyone can benefit from daily magnesium supplementation, it’s especially important for those on birth control (or coming off birth control) to supplement with magnesium.

Magnesium is difficult to get enough of in our modern diets, and some evidence shows that serum magnesium levels are reduced by oral contraceptive use3. If you have a history of birth control use, using a chelated form of magnesium is recommended, taking 200-400mg daily to supplement what you’re getting from food.


Vitamin B6

Finally, vitamin B6 can be helpful in restoring menstrual function in women with post birth control syndrome or those taking oral contraception. A 2011 study found that those who used oral contraceptives had lower plasma vitamin B6 concentrations4, and one type of amenorrhoea caused by high prolactin levels was able to be treated using B6 supplementation5, suggesting that supplementing with B6 may be beneficial in post birth control syndrome.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate) is found in a variety of foods and is generally safe to take as a supplement at doses below 100mg per day.

P5P vitamin B6


  1. Palmery, M. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013. 17 (13): 1804-1813.
  2. Fallah S, et al. Effect of contraceptive pill on the selenium and zinc status of healthy subjects. Contraception. 2009. 80 (1): 40-3.
  3. Blum M, et al. Oral contraceptive lowers serum magnesium. Harefuah. 1991. 121(10): 363-364.
  4. Wilson, SM, et al. Oral contraceptive use: impact on folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 status. Nutrition Reviews. 2011. 69: 572–583.
  5. McIntosh, EN. Treatment of women with the galactorrhea-amenorrhea syndrome with pyridoxine (vitamin B6). J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976. 42(6): 1192-1195.
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