Friday 27 October, 2017 0 Comments

The Hormone Secret

Over the past month, we have been looking at hormones and the role they play in our health, energy and weight. When talking about hormones it is important to cover the topic of the oral contraceptive pill.

The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is used widely for a number of reasons, including contraception and as a solution for common hormone imbalance conditions such as irregular or painful periods, and acne treatment. This can be very effective at helping manage symptoms, as it works to override any natural hormone imbalances happening within the body when taking the medication. However, it is important to note that while the OCP is effective in managing symptoms, it does not always result in healing the underlying condition, which can result in complications when coming off the OCP.

Today I will cover how the OCP works and talk through other effects of the OCP. I am a huge advocate for understanding the body and how what we put on it and in it affects our health, energy and wellbeing. Through learning about the side effects of the OCP you can then work to mitigate these if this is your chosen form of contraception or hormone imbalance management or seek an alternative based on an informed decision.

How does the oral contraceptive pill work?

The mechanism of action for oral contraceptives is hormonal. Hormones are chemical messages that tell the cells in your body what to do. Oral contraceptives are a form of synthetic hormones that may replace or override the hormones that the body naturally produces. Usually, these include oestrogen, synthetic oestrogen, progesterone or synthetic progesterone.

In replacing or overriding hormones, the OCP works effectively to prevent pregnancy. As mentioned above, adding in these extra hormones is also utilised to manage any hormonal imbalances that are naturally happening within the body.

5 Ways the Oral Contraceptive Pill Can Effect Your Health

Oral contraceptives have broad effects across women’s body systems. It is important to understand the full effects the OCP has on the body, with reduced nutrient levels being one of the main consequence.

When we add more hormones into our system by taking oral contraceptives, we then require more nutrients to process and detoxify these extra hormones out of the body via the liver. This effectively ‘uses up’ the nutrients we have faster and can create cases of nutrient deficiency that impact your health and energy status adversely.

  1. Vitamin B9: High levels of oestrogen in certain oral contraceptives are known to impair women’s metabolism of vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 (also known as folate) is an incredibly important nutrient for making red blood cells, our energy production, detoxification and maintaining a balanced mood.
  2. Magnesium: The OCP is also associated with alterations in magnesium status. Blum et al. reported a 26% decrease in serum magnesium after 6 months on the oral contraceptive pill. This is a result of the OCP causing the body to utilise more magnesium. Magnesium controls over three hundred enzymes within your body, meaning a magnesium deficiency can result in a multitude of symptoms, including unstable moods and muscle tension. Try this Simple Chocolate Smoothie recipe which is rich in magnesium from cacao. 
  3. Selenium: The increased load on the liver by the OCP also results in reduced selenium levels. Selenium is required for the production of glutathione, an important liver antioxidant that helps to protect the liver from damage. With the increased detoxification requirement of the liver, more selenium is then utilised to produce more glutathione, resulting in a deficiency.

    Selenium, along with magnesium, are both vital for energy production, mood, the body’s detoxification pathways and oxidative stress protection.
  4. B vitamins, Manganese & Zinc: Research shows that the OCP has been associated with altering the metabolism of many other nutrients such as depleting B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12), manganese and zinc. These nutrients are incredibly important to our health and wellbeing, with anxiety and depression shown to be heavily associated with low B6 and zinc.
  5. The use of oral contraceptives is also associated with the increased risk of health conditions such as thrombosis. This is at least in part due to its adverse effects on the body's stores of vitamins and enzymes and the oxidative defense system.

What can you do?

The OCP is a hard one, as there are not many ideal alternatives when it comes to contraception. However, if this is your choice of contraception, I would highly recommend supporting your body with additional B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, manganese, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and selenium, on top of your normal daily nutritional support requirements.

Supplementation with vitamin E has also been shown to mitigate some of the adverse effects on vitamins, enzymes involved and the oxidative defense system contributing to symptoms and elevated risk associated with thrombosis.

You can also look at including affordable superfoods in your diet that are high in these nutrients. Good food sources are:

  • B vitamins: Beans, green leafy vegetables, avocados and animal products such as organic free-range meats and fish.
  • Magnesium: Almonds, green leafy vegetables, and cacao. Try this Simple Chocolate Smoothie recipe to boost your magnesium status. 
  • Zinc: Seafood (especially oysters) and red meat.
  • Vitamin E: Spinach, turnip greens, chard, sunflower seeds, almonds, bell peppers, asparagus, collards, kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, beef and fish.

As we know, optimal levels of nutrients are often difficult to absorb from our food, due to our soils lacking in nutrients, to begin with, so it is important to include extra nutritional support to our daily routine. I recommend the Be Pure One and BePure Three, in the BePure Everyday Health Pack, which contain all the vitamins and minerals to provide for the additional requirements to support you while on the OCP.

I also recommend nourishing your liver to support detoxification and decrease liver load. Take a look at this blog post for strategies for low toxing your liver to support it back to optimal function. BePure EstroClear is nutritional support, designed to help manage oestrogen dominance. Developed by Ben Warren as an active daily detoxifier, BePure EstroClear is scientifically formulated to support up-regulate the detoxification system through the second phase of the liver and could be a great option if you are on the OCP.

If you are on the OCP for reasons other than contraception, such as controlling irregular or painful periods, and acne treatment, your hormones may be in need of some love. Learn more here about balancing your hormones for optimal health. When our hormones are balanced perfectly they coordinate our body like an intricately choreographed dance. Our incredibly intelligent body then gives us signs our hormones are balanced through healthy outward appearance, as well as improved moods, ample energy and menstrual cycles that are a pain-free, non-event.  


Ben Warren presents
'The Hormone Secret'   

The Hormone Secret, presented by Ben Warren

Have stubborn weight that just won't budge, energy slumps, painful PMS or menopause issues? Join Ben Warren as he shares the secret role hormones play in your health, why our modern world is working against healthy female hormones and how to naturally heal your hormones and bring them back to balance. This is information every woman needs to know. Learn more and register here. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique, for your individual health concerns it is important to discuss these with a BePure Clinical Consultant or relevant health professional.