How do birth control pills affect nutrition

Because oral contraceptives are used so widely, their effect on nutrition has been getting increasing attention. The Pill is known to deplete the blood’s content of certain vitamins, notably folic acid and vitamin B6, but usually the vitamin depletion is not serious enough to cause overt symptoms.

In most healthy women with good diets, these vitamin levels do not fall to an alarming level, says Dr. Daphne Roe of Cornell University. “But in a poverty group of young women who are trying to make do with very little and who have limited nutritional knowledge, you may find a different situation,” Dr. Roe notes. “It is this group we are most concerned about.”

Because her requirements for several vitamins may be increased, it is especially important for any woman on the Pill to eat a nutritionally balanced diet.

In particular, if a woman on the Pill is living on snack foods, she is more likely to develop folate deficiency than her neighbor who eats such good sources of folic acid as green, leafy vegetables.