Vitamins C and E may reduce side effects of oral contraceptives

June 29, 2012

According to a new Iranian study, vitamin C and E supplements may protect against increased oxidative stress in women taking oral contraceptives.

In the randomized controlled trial that lasted four weeks, 120 healthy women were divided into three groups: those taking contraceptives only (0.03 mg ethinylestradiol and 0.15 mg levonorgestrel), those taking contra-ceptives plus vitamin C and E supplements (150mg and 200 IU respectively), and those taking a placebo (1). An analysis of blood samples showed that participants who only took contraceptives experienced increased levels of a marker of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde), while antioxidant enzyme activity (glutathione peroxidase and glutathione reductase) decreased. Taking additional supplements of vitamins C and E significantly increased enzyme activity and reduced plasma levels of the oxidative stress marker.

The researchers commented that low-dose oral contraceptives may potentially present a cardiovascular risk by enhancing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. The use of vitamins E and C may therefore be bene-ficial in reducing this side effect of oral contraceptives. However, larger intervention studies would be necessary to confirm these results.


  1. Zala F. et al. Effect of vitamin E and C supplements on lipid peroxidation and GSH-dependent antioxidant enzyme status in the blood of women consuming oral contraceptives. Contraception. 2012; 86(1):62–66.