Drug Induced Nutrient Depletions: Oral Contraceptives

Drug induced nutrient depletions (DIND) refers to the nutrients that are depleted from our bodies as a result of the prescription and over-the-counter medications that we take every day.  

This will be a multi-part series in which I will focus on a different drug classes each week.





This week for part one, I will focus on the nutrients that are depleted from women’s bodies through the use of oral contraceptives.  


Here in the United States, we take a lot of medications.  Between 2011 and 2014 (1):

  • 48.9% of people took at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days

  • 23.1% of people were taking three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days

  • 11.9% of people took five or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days.

The data above only accounts for prescription medications and not over-the-counter medications.  


According to the CDC, between 2011 and 2013 16% of women between the ages of 15-44 were using the birth control pill as their preferred form of contraception (2).  While hormonal contraception works really well at preventing pregnancy, there are side effects that women must be aware of.  Namely, the nutrients that hormonal contraceptives can deplete from the body must be evaluated. The main nutrients that are depleted include:  folic acid, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin C, zinc, tyrosine, niacin, B6, and B12 (3).


If you take oral contraceptives, talk to your health care provider or nutritionist about whether supplementation may be needed.


You can also eat more of the foods that contain these nutrients to ensure you are restoring your nutritional balance.  Below, you will find information on the amount of each nutrient you need per day as a supplement, as well as the best sources of foods for each.


Folic Acid

How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 400-800 mcg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs, seafood, and grains, spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and brussel sprouts (4)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 500-1000 mg (3)

Make sure you use an easily absorbed form, such as Magnesium Glycinate. 

Good Food Sources: Almonds, spinach, cashews and other nuts, fortified cereals, soy milk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, avocado, potato, yogurt, brown rice, yogurt, banana, salmon, milk, animal products, broccoli (4)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement:  25-100 mg (3)

Good Food Sources:  dried sunflower seeds, orange juice, bulgur, spinach noodles, pine nuts, dairy products, eggs, green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts (3, 4)


Vitamin C

How much you need per day if you use a supplement:  250-1500 mg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Red peppers, orange juice, citrus fruit, green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomato juice, brussel sprouts, spinach, cauliflower (4)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement:  50-200 mg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Oysters, beef, crab, fortified breakfast cereals, lobster, pork, baked beans, cheese, cashews, chicken, peas, flounder, almonds, chickpeas, kidney beans (4)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 250-500 mg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Soy, turkey, chicken, peanuts, banana (3)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement:  50-100 mg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Milk, eggs, enriched breads, rice, fish, lean meats, legumes, peanuts, poultry (4)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement:  50-100 mg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Chick peas, beef liver, tuna, salmon, chicken, fortified breakfast cereals, banana, bulgur, squash, nuts, raisins, tofu, watermelon (4)



How much you need per day if you use a supplement:  500-1000 mcg (3)

Good Food Sources:  Clams, beef liver, fortified breakfast cereals, trout salmon, tuna, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs chicken, haddock (4)


To help you replenish the depletions, consider using an overall daily support like Metagenics Wellness Essentials or reach out to Kim for a more personalized nutrition and supplement plan. 


About the Author: Leanne DiMaio earned her Master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College in December 2017. She is currently working on her Doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition degree at Maryland University of Integrative Health.Leanne is passionate about helping others achieve their optimal state of health and wellness. She is currently earning clinical hours toward the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential under Kim Ross's supervision.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FastStats. Cdc.gov. 2017. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-therapeutic.htm. Accessed June 3, 2018.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  FastStats. Cdc.gov. 2016. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/contraceptive.htm. Accessed May 25, 2017.

3. Vagnini F, Fox B. The Side Effects Bible. New York: Broadway Books; 2005.

4. United States Department of Agriculture. Vitamins and Minerals | Food and Nutrition Information Center. Nalusda.gov. 2018. Available at: https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/vitamins-and-minerals. Accessed June 3, 2018.

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