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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin B12 and birth control’

Birth Control and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Monday, June 21st, 2010

My friend, Barbara J., told me the story of how her birth control method caused her vitamin B12 deficiency.

When Barbara’s youngest son was born, she felt the need to take birth control. Therefore, she obtained a prescription from her doctor for NuvaRing. NuvaRing contains the hormone estrogen. Unfortunately, at the time Barbara did not know that estrogen can cause the user’s blood plasma B12 levels to drop.

Barbara had been using the NuvaRing, an estrogen-containing contraceptive, for ten months. At this point she started feeling weak. Her immune system went haywire as she became continuously sick. First she got recurring cold sores. Then she got swine flu. When that was over, she developed Strep throat, a bacterial infection. Upon completing the antibiotic regimen for Strep throat, a different bacterial infection set in – Cellulitis -from a skin lesion. Believe it or not, but shortly after she also had a second case of Cellulitis in the area of a mosquito bite. Just when she thought her luck couldn’t get any worse, she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI).

After the UTI, she realized that these things are not coincidental. She went to her regular primary care physician, who did a blood workup on her. The doctor told her that her vitamin B12 levels were extremely low. Her doctor started her on a weekly series of B12 injections immediately. Within a few days of her first injection, she felt much better.

Furthermore, she usually gets terrible hay fever in the fall with extensive episodes of  sneezing and headaches. Amazingly, her seasonal allergy symptoms were milder than they usually were in the fall following her series of B12 injections.

Although Barbara no longer receives injections of vitamin B12, she was advised by her doctor to continue supplementing her diet with vitamin B12.

Do Birth Control Pills Affect Vitamin B12 Levels?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Birth control pills (a.k.a. oral contraceptives) reduce the levels of vitamin B12 in the user. The estrogen hormone contained in the pills is responsible for this.

What are the potential side effects of a vitamin B12 reduction?

Women taking birth control pills (a.k.a. oral contraceptives) should be aware that vitamin B12 is necessary for the metabolism of the dangerous amino acid called homocysteine.

What can homocysteine do?

A high homocysteine level is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Basically, this toxic amino acid encourages plaque formation in the arteries, which then leads to coronary heart disease and stroke.

Are there other side effects of low vitamin B12 blood levels?

A vitamin B12 deficiency has been known to cause memory loss, neuropathy (nerve cell death), depression, psychosis and even urinary incontinence.

What can be done for a woman who is taking birth control pills?

Women using estrogen pills are advised to supplement their diets with vitamin B12, as well as vitamins B6, C and zinc. Levels of all these vitamins have been shown to be affected by the use of birth control pills.

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