Birth control medications - monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic preparations

Selected Medications

Monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic preparations birth control medications include:

  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Desogestrel (Apri, Desogen, Mircette, and Ortho-Cept)
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Levonorgestrel (Alesse, Levlen, Levlite, Levora, Nordette, PREVEN, Tri-Levlen, and Triphasil)
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone (Brevicon, Estrostep 21, Estrostep Fe, Femhrt, Genora 0.5/35, Genora 1/35, Jenest-28, Loestrin, Modicon, Nelova 0.5/35E, Nelova 10/11, Norethin 1/35E, Norinyl 1+35, Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 10/11, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, Ovcon 35, Ovcon 50, and Tri-Norinyl)
  • Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Ortho-Cyclen, and Ortho-Prefest)



Magnesium deficiency affects calcium and vitamin D levels in the body and may be associated with:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heart irregularities
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss)

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency may include:

  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Acne
  • Growth retardation
  • Headaches
  • Impaired wound healing

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency may include:

  • Weakness
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Mental confusion
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anemia 

Chronic low levels of this nutrient may also increase the risk of heart disease, as well as colon and prostate cancers.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)

Low levels of folic acid have been linked to:

  • Anemia
  • Heart disease
  • Birth defects
  • Colon cancer

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Obvious symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are rare because it takes years to develop complications associated with long-term depletion of this nutrient. Irritability, weakness, numbness, anemia, loss of appetite, headache, personality changes, and confusion are some of the signs and symptoms associated with vitamin B12 depletion. Low levels of this vitamin may also be associated with an increased risk of:

  • Colon cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Brain disorders
  • Birth defects

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Vitamin C deficiency may include:

  • Bruising
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Emotional changes
  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Swelling of the lower limbs

Severe deficiency leads to scurvy, a disorder that affects muscles and bones and is potentially fatal. Scurvy is rare these days because of the wide availability of vitamin C from dietary sources.


Signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency include:

  • Loss of appetite or sense of taste
  • Growth retardation
  • Hair loss
  • Skin changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased susceptibility to infection

Editorial Note

The information presented here covers some of the nutrients that may be affected when you take certain medications. If you have these signs and symptoms listed, it does not always mean you have low levels of these nutrients. Many things affect the level of nutrients, including your:

  • Medical history
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle

As well as how long you have been taking the medication. Please talk with your health care provider. They can best address your health care needs and determine whether you are at risk for low levels of any nutrients.

Supporting Research

Ames BN. Micronutrient deficiencies: A major cause of DNA damage. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2000;889:87-106.

Bermond P. Therapy of side effects of oral contraceptive agents with vitamin B6. Acta Vitaminol Enzymol. 1982;4(1-2):45-54.

Bierwirth J, Ulbricht KU, Schmidt RE, Witte T. Association of common variable immunodeficiency with vitamin B(6) deficiency. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007; [Epub ahead of print].

Chiang EP, Smith DE, Selhub J, Dallal G, Wang YC, Roubenoff R. Inflammation causes tissue-specific depletion of vitamin B6. Arthritis Res Ther. 2005;7(6):R1254-62.

Fox C, Ramsoomair D, Carter C. Magnesium: its proven and potential clinical significance.South Med J. 2001;94(12):1195-201.

Hambidge M. Human zinc deficiency. J Nutr. 2000;130(5S Suppl):1344S-1349S.

Li Y, Schellhorn HE. New developments and novel therapeutic perspectives for vitamin C. J Nutr. 2007;137(10):2171-84.

Morris MS, Picciano MF, Jacques PF, Sellnub J. Plasma pyridoxal 5-phosphate in US Population: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2004. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(5):1446-54.

Nielsen FH, Milne DB, Klevay LM, Gallagher S, Johnson L. Dietary magnesium deficiency induces heart rhythm changes, impairs glucose tolerance, and decreases serum cholesterol in post menopausal women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26(2):121-32.

Pelton R, LaValle J, Hawkins EB, et al. Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook. Hudson, OH: LexiComp, Inc.;2001:459-471.

Rakel: Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

Rodríguez-Morán M, Guerrero-Romero F. Serum magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. Arch Dis Child. 2007; [Epub ahead of print].

Spinneker A, Sola R, Lemmen V, Castillo MJ, Pietrzik K, González-Gross M. Vitamin B6 status, deficiency and its consequences--an overview. Nutr Hosp. 2007;22(1):7-24.

Thompson J. Vitamins, minerals and supplements: overview of vitamin C (5). Community Pract. 2007;80(1):35-6.

Tubek S, Grzanka P, Tubek I. Role of Zinc in Hemostasis: A Review. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2007; [Epub ahead of print].

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 9/21/2014
  • Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed HealthCare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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