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Birth control pills, aka oral contraceptives, raise Poison/"Vitamin A"

Birth control pills cause MANY specific nutrient deficiencies while increasing blood levels of Poison/"Vitamin A".  For many women, "the pill" is the real start of their downhill health slide.

I'm going to give you something to think about.  FERTILITY is a marker of HEALTH.  If one is INfertile, then they can be assumed to be UNhealthy.  Ergo, if something specifically makes a person INfertile, then it should be assumed that this thing is causing UNhealthy effects to the body. By logical extension then, birth control pills are entirely UNhealthy to begin with, and the research below shows that they are a nutritional disaster (no, I don't care about "low-dose" excuses, if it causes INfertility, the same logic applies).

I'm going to put the most recent study first that specifically demonstrated that long-term birth control pill usage DID cause Poison/"Vitamin A" toxicity in rats. Then, I'll go back to the oldest studies I have (1975) and go through them to the most recent.

Short story:  if you ever took birth control pills, this is a major red light for ongoing Poison/"Vitamin A" toxicity that could greatly benefit from our Poison/"Vitamin A" Detox Program.  It doesn't just go away on its own, as I've shown multiple other places on this blog-forum.

The toxic pathophysiology of retinol hypervitaminosis and norethisterone enantate in rats. [1990]

The use of the long acting contraceptive was accompanied by clinically overt toxic manifestations on the liver, glucose tolerance, in addition to the danger of carcinogenicity. Also chronic hypervitaminosis "A" leads to a variety of toxic manifestations of obscure mechanism. The objective of this experimental work was directed to study the toxicity of the isolated and combined augmented doses of the two therapeutic agents on the female albino rat. The results of the present study evidenced that the long acting contraceptive norethisterone enantate is potentially hepato- and nephro-toxic. More damage to the liver; and luteinization of theca and stroma cells of the ovaries occurred as a result of retinol hypervitaminosis. The brunt of toxicity and damage on the test organs after coadministration of both chemicals proved to be synergetic except on the ovarian tissues.

Oral contraceptives and vitamins: a review. [1975]

The literature concerning the influence of estrogen-containing oral contraceptives on vitamins is reviewed. The appearance of an elevated plasma concentration of vitamin A is probably without clinical importance, while there seems to be a clear connection between disturbances of vitamin B6 metabolism and mental symptoms. Low levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 have also been noted. Despite this, it is very rare that hematologic abnormalities develop during hormonal contraception. A reduced concentration of vitamin C in plasma and blood corpuscles has been reported. The clinical significance of these alterations is unknown.

Effects of oral contraceptive steroids on vitamin and lipid levels in serum. [1975]

The results of a comprehensive study to determine the effects of oral contraceptive agents on nutrient metabolism have been reported. The group of women using oral contraceptive agents was found to have significantly higher levels of hemoglobin, packed cell volume, serum vitamin A, total lipids, triglycerides, vitamin E, and alpha1-protein and significantly lower levels of serum and red cell folacin, vitamin B12 and albumin. The biological significance of many of these differences has not been elucidated satisfactorily.

Effect of oral contraceptive agents on nutrients: II. Vitamins. [1975]

Clinical, biochemical and nutritional data were collected from a large population of women using oral contraceptive agents. Higher incidence of abnormal clinical signs related to malnutrition were observed in the lower (B) as compared to the higher (A) socioeconomic groups, and also in the nonsupplemented groups as compared to the supplemented groups in the B subjects. As a rule the intake of oral contraceptive agent subjects of vitamin A, C, B6 and folic acid did not differ from that of the controls As expected, subjects from the supplemented groups had higher intake of vitamin A, C, B6, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid, and A groups had higher intake of vitamin C, B6, riboflavin and folic acid. Increased plasma vitamin A and decreased carotene levels were observed in oral contraceptive agent users. In general oral contraceptive agents had little or no effect on plasma ascorbic acid. Urinary excretion of both thiamin and riboflavin in subjects using oral contraceptive agents were lower in A groups. Erythrocyte folate and plasma pyridoxal phosphate was decreased in A groups due to oral contraceptive agents. Subjects who took supplements had higher levels of plasma vitamin A, ascorbic acid and folate. But urinary thiamin and riboflavin were higher only in group A subjects who took supplements.

Relationship between levels of blood lipids, vitamins C, A, and E, serum copper compounds, and urinary excretions of tryptophan metabolites in women taking oral contraceptive therapy. [1975]

To evaluate which women using oral contraceptive agents might be at risk, biochemical indices known to be affected by the estrogens and progestogens were studied in women who take oral contraceptive agents, in women who do not use oral contraceptive agents, in women in third trimester of pregnancy and 6 weeks after parturition, and in men with normal and high blood lipid levels. The most consistent changes due to oral contraceptive agents were in serum levels of copper, triglycerides, and vitamin A and in the urinary excretion of xanthurenic acid and niacin derivatives before and after a tryptophan load test. There was only a slight suggestion, with no statistical significance, that serum vitamin C levels decreased when the serum levels of ceruloplasmin were high. The highest blood pressures and serum triglycerides and vitamin A levels were obtained in those women who ingested the highest level of estrogens. Pregnant women had the lowest levels of serum vitamin A. The oral contraceptive agents users had the lowest average levels of carotenoids corresponding to the highest average levels of vitamin A in the serum. Thus, estrogens not only increase the rate of change of tryptophan to niacin but may also increase the rate of conversion of carotene to vitamin A. Relative reactivity to oral contraceptive agents and possible risk to a patient might be evaluated by a profile of blood pressure and serum triglycerides, copper, and vitamin A.

Effect of Ovral, a combination type oral contraceptive agent, on vitamin A metabolism in rats. [1975]

When a typical combination-type oral contraceptive agent (Ovral, which contains 0.5 mg norgestrel and 0.05 mg ethinyl estradiol per tablet), is given to young female rats at 50 x the human dosage for an extended period, plasma vitamin A levels are elevated about 50%. The increase is mainly due to a higher steadystate level of retinol binding protein, and not to the presence of more lipoprotein-bound retinyl ester. In Ovral treated rats, the depletion of vitamin A from the liver, calculated as a linear rate, as a linear rate per unit body weight, or as a half-life, tends to be greater, although the differences are only marginally significant. The absorption, storage and short-term excretion patterns of a dose of radioactive vitamin A are not demonstrably affected by Ovral treatment.

PIP: Female Wistar rats were given Ovral (.5 mg norgestrel and .05 mg ethinyl estradiol per tablet) at 50 times the human dose to investigate the mechanism responsible for the previously reported elevation of Vitamin-A plasma levels in response to combination-type contraceptives. After 65 treatment days, plasma Vitamin-A levels were elevated 50%. Liver reserves of the vitamin, built up by dosing with 2.4 mg retinol, were depleted more rapidly in the Ovral-treated group, but at a marginal level of significance. Analysis following administration of radiolabeled Vitamin-A showed the absorption, storage, and excretion patterns to be essentially the same in treatment and control groups. It is concluded that the increase in the steady-state level of plasma Vitamin-A is mainly due to a higher level of circulating retinol-binding protein. Extrapolating these results to humans leads to the conclusion that fears of increased incidence of malformed fetuses from higher Vitamin-A plasma levels or of hypovitaminosis in malnourished mothers or their newborn children are unfounded.

Effects of oral contraceptives on vitamin metabolism. [1976]

Literature on the effects of oral contraceptives (OCs) on vitamin metabolism is reviewed. OCs have been reported to markedly increase serum levels of Vitamin-A. OCs may induce a thiamine deficiency and lower levels of Vitamin-B2. Concentrations of ascorbic acid in platelets, white cells, plasma, and urine are decreased by OCs. Decreased plasma and red blood cell concentrations of folic acid have been reported in OC users, though it does not appear that absorption of folate polyglutamate is affected. OC users may develop megaloblastic anemia because of folic acid deficiency. OCs have been reported to markedly reduce serum levels of Vitamin-B12. Some OC users who excrete abnormal amounts of tryptophan metabolites have some degree of true Vitamin-B6 deficiency. Evidence of altered tryptophan metabolism and/or absolute Vitamin-B6 deficiency has been found in emotionally depressed women taking OCs. OCs, especially estrogens, produce tryptophan metabolism abnormalities in the great majority of users. An effect of OCs on alpha-tocopherol plasma concentrations has yet to be demonstrated in humans.

Vitamin A transporting plasma proteins and female sex hormones. [1979]

Retinol-binding protein, prealbumin, and sex steroid plasma levels have been estimated daily in four women during the course of a normal menstrual cycle and in three women during treatment with combined oral contraceptives. The retinol-binding protein level showed a bicyclic variation during the menstrual cycle, whereas for prealbumin no consistent pattern of variation was observed. Oral contraceptive therapy induced a significant increase of retinol-binding protein which was correlated with the increase of vitamin A. The increase was about 35% for the formulation containing synthetic estrogen as compared with 15% for the one with natural estrogen. In relation to retinol-binding protein, the plasma level of prealbumin showed a less rapid increase but the final increment after oral contraceptive therapy appeared to be of the same magnitude for both proteins.


Women taking oral contraceptives have about a 50 percent higher than normal concentration of retinol in their plasma. This returns to normal levels in less than four months after they stop taking the contraceptive pill.

Serum vitamin A and retinol-binding protein in malnourished women treated with oral contraceptives: effects of estrogen dose and duration of treatment. [1979]

Malnourished women who had been treated with combination-type oral contraceptives containing 0.03 mg or 0.05 mg of ethinyl estradiol and 0.15 mg d-norgestrel had significantly higher levels of serum retinol-binding protein (RBP) and vitamin A after two or five cycles of treatment compared with untreated control subjects. The values tended to return to normal by the twelfth cycle of treatment, the trend for reversal being more marked for RBP than for retinol.

PIP: The early (2-5 months) and late (12 months) effects of treatment with 2 oral contraceptives (OCs) containing either 50 or 30 mcg of ethinyl estradiol and .15 mg of d-norgestrel on serum vitamin A and retinol-binding protein (RBP) in women belonging to the low-income groups in Hyderabad, India, are reported. Serum vitamin A and RBP levels were examined in 72 women of low income, aged 18-35 years, who had used the 30 (pill A) or 50 (pill B) mcg formulations. Comparisons were made between control and treated groups, between the 2 treatment groups, and in the same treatment group between women who had used OCs for 2-5 cycles and those for 12 cycles. Average age, parity, and body weight of OC users tended to be higher than that of the control group, the difference being statistically significant only in some comparisons. Although women using pill B tended to have higher body weight at both early and late time points than pill A users, the difference was not statistically significant. Both of the pills produced significant increases in serum vitamin A and RBP after 2 or 5 months of use, the rise being slightly, though not significantly, greater with pill B; however, after 12 months of treatment, RBP levels were normal or only marginally elevated, whereas vitamin A levels continued to be high. In the case of pill B, though, vitamin A levels also tended to decline. These cross sectional data suggest that the rise in serum vitamin A and RBP observed in women treated with OCs may not be sustained after prolonged use but tend to revert to normal levels, the reversal trend being more marked for RBP than vitamin A.

Nutritional effects of oral contraceptive use: a review. [1980]

Oral contraceptives agents (OCA) have been in use for more than two decades, and at the present time, 150 to 200 million women are using the preparations. Apart from their gynecologic influence, the hormones have been shown to affect a number of metabolic and nutritional processes, some advantageously and others disadvantageously. Concern over the nutritional status of females consuming OCA prompted this review. Eight vitamins and three minerals were investigated. Contraceptive steroid ingestion was shown to depress the physiologic levels of six nutrients (riboflavin, pyridoxine, folacin, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid and zinc), elevate the levels of three others (vitamin K, iron and copper) and provide little or no change in one (alpha tocopherol) and questionable increases in another (vitamin A). It was concluded that females consuming OCA should pay particular attention to vitamin and mineral intake and, if warranted, consume physiologic supplements of needed nutrients.

The state of knowledge concerning the effects of OCs (oral contraceptives) and mineral metabolism is assessed. A review of the literature indicates that OCs depress the levels of Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, folacin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, zinc and elevate levels of Vitamin K, copper, and iron. The ingestion of OCs produces little effect on Vitamin E, or alpha tocopherol. Findings on the effects of OC ingestion on Vitamin A are ambiguous. OC users have 50%-80% higher serum levels of Vitamin A than nonusers; however, OC users may have a greater need for Vitamin A than nonusers. The need for riboflavin may also be higher for OC users. OC users need more pyridoxine and riboflavin is needed to oxidize pyridoxine phosphate to pyridoxal phosphate. Most studies support the contention that OC usage leads to a deficiency of Vitamin B6. Approximately 80% of all women using OCs for 6 or more months experience abnormal typtophan metabolism. In order to correct this problem, 25 mg daily, or 12 times the normal daily requirement, is needed. Some investigators recommend giving this dosage to women, who experience abnormal tryptophan metabolism, while others warn that the long-term effects of such high dosages are unknown. Most investigators recommend that OC users, with Vitamin B12 or Vitamin C deficiencies, should be given supplementary vitamins.

Effect of oral contraceptive agents on vitamin and mineral requirements. [1980]

Oral contraceptive agents alter the metabolism of some nutrients, which could affect nutritional requirements. The effects of oral contraceptives on pyridoxine, folacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin A, ascorbic acid, zinc, and copper as determined by studies done in the last five years are reviewed. Evidence for actual nutritional deficiencies due to the use of oral contraceptives is still insufficient, and more research is needed. Supplements are advised only for those women in whom other factors, such as disease, impair nutritional adequacy.

PIP:  Metabolic changes caused by oral contraceptives (OCs) in terms of the vitamins pyridoxine, folacin, thiamin, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, and A and the minerals zinc and copper are discussed. Pyroxidine in the form of coenzyme pyridoxal phosphate is involved in conversion of tryptophan to niacin, and tryptophan load tests have shown that certain metabolites of B6 have increased secretion when OCs are used. Folic acid deficiency has been found in some OC users. As with pyroxidine and folacin, OC users may require supplementation of thiamin as well. When riboflavin deficiency is preexistent, OCs exacerbate the condition (this effect may be race-dependent). Vitamin A, in contrast to the B vitamins, increases in the plasma of women taking OCs, perhaps due to greater mobilization of the vitamin by the liver. OC users generally show significantly lower leukocyte and platelet levels of ascorbic acid, and supplementation may be necessary. Zinc levels generally decrease, whereas copper levels in serum significantly increase in association with OC use. At present, supplements of vitamins and minerals are recommended only for high-risk groups.

Nutrition and the pill. [1984]

Apart from their gynecologic influence as birth control agents, oral contraceptives (OCs) have been shown to affect a number of metabolic and nutritional processes, some insignificantly and others beneficially. The use of contraceptive pills has been shown to decrease the physiologic levels of six nutrients--riboflavin, pyridoxine, folacin, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid and zinc--and to increase the levels of four others--vitamin C, iron, copper and vitamin A. Women who take OCs and have adequate diets need little or no supplemental vitamins. Vitamin and mineral increases caused by OCs do not require treatment.

Dr. Garrett Smith, the "Nutrition Detective"
Licensed Naturopathic Physician (NMD) in Arizona
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