Women who stop using birth control pills risk having their vitamin D levels fall, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The researchers analyzed data from a study of reproductive health in nearly 1,700 African-American women, aged between 23 and 34. The analysis showed that women who were using contraception containing estrogen, such as birth control pills, had higher levels of vitamin D than women who didn’t use such contraceptives.
The researchers did not find any differences in behavior, such as spending more time outdoors, which could explain the difference in vitamin D levels. They therefore concluded that contraceptives with estrogen tend to boost vitamin D levels, and that those levels are likely to fall when women stop using such contraception.
This has important implications for women who stop taking birth control pills because they want to get pregnant. In a press release, the study’s first author said:
Our findings indicate women may run the risk of developing vitamin D deficiency just when they want to become pregnant. For women who are planning to stop using birth control, it is worth taking steps to ensure that vitamin D levels are adequate while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
Why is vitamin D important?
Vitamin D is important for good general health, especially bone health. Unlike other vitamins, the most important source of vitamin D isn’t the food we eat, but the sun. The human body produces its own vitamin D in a chemical reaction when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
While it isn’t scientifically proven that vitamin D boosts fertility and conception rates, there is a growing interest in the potential role of vitamin D in human reproductive processes. Furthermore, a wide range of pregnancy complications are associated with vitamin D deficiency.
So how, exactly, do you make sure you have enough vitamin D while you are trying to get pregnant?
The most natural source of vitamin D is exposure to sunshine. If you are very fair-skinned, as little as 15 minutes per day may be enough.
If you have darker skin, you need additional exposure to produce the same level of vitamin D. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D your body will produce.
When sufficient sun exposure is not possible, taking a vitamin D supplement is a simple and effective way to make sure you maintain a healthy level of vitamin D.
See also: Vitamin D: The fertility vitamin?