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Feeling Tired and Sluggish?
Blame “the Pill”

Feeling tired and sluggish all the time? Your birth control pill may be to blame. In a study from Tufts University (US), 75 percent of oral contraceptive takers who weren’t taking a multivitamin had low levels of energy-boosting vitamin B6. “It may be because the vitamin is used to metabolize estrogen, the main component in many birth control pills,” says lead researcher Professor Martha Morris. Vitamin B6 helps convert food into energy and maintain nerve function, so short-changing yourself can lead to fatigue, irritability and even depression.

Vitamin B6 is probably involved in more bodily processes than any other vitamin or mineral. Referred to as “the workhorse of nutrients”, it performs more than 100 jobs innumerable times a day.

Vitamin B6 is also responsible for the manufacture of hormones, red blood cells, neurotransmitters, enzymes and prostaglandins. Vitamin B6 is recognized for helping to maintain healthy immune system functions, for protecting the heart from cholesterol deposits, and for preventing kidney stone formation.

Vitamin B6 is also necessary for the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, both important brain chemicals. Thus, oral contraceptive-induced vitamin B6 depletion can inhibit the production of serotonin, which increases a woman’s risks of becoming depressed. In one study, one third of the women taking oral contraceptives for two to five years were found to be suffering from depression. In the brain, serotonin gets converted into melatonin, which is a hormone that helps induce sleep. Therefore, the vitamin B6 depletion caused by oral contraceptives also increases a woman’s risk of developing insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Daily dose: 2mg, which you can get from most multivitamins. You can also change from a regular vitamin to a prenatal one. “Each prenatal pill usually contains 2.6mg of B6 or more,” says Morris. “But beware of megadoses, because regularly getting 100mg or more of the vitamin can cause nerve damage.”

Food sources: 1 baked potato (0.5mg), 1 banana (0.4mg) 1 cup red pepper slices (0.3mg).

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