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Knowledge can boost confidence for oral contraceptive users

2018/08/28 00:00:00

Knowledge can boost confidence for oral contraceptive users

Managing lesser known but important side effects, can reduce concerns for users of oral contraceptives

Enabling women to make choices about their fertility is empowering and offers women better economic and social opportunities.1 Since their introduction in 1960, there have been many advances towards minimising the side effects of oral contraceptives (OCs) and thus to improving compliance. Lower dose oral contraceptive formulations have resulted in a decrease in side effects such as breast tenderness and bloating.2

Many users are however unaware of less obvious OC-induced side effects, resulting from the depletion of certain nutrients, such as some of the Vitamin B group. Greater knowledge of the most common nutritional shortages and their possible impact, should assist users of OCs to decide, in consultation with their physician, whether they would benefit from taking appropriate dietary supplements.2

Medical disorders that can occur because of vitamin or mineral deficiencies caused by OCs include cardiovascular disorders such as high blood pressure and thrombosis; anaemia and anorexia, as well as the more serious neural tube defects (NTDs) occurring during pregnancy.2,3 NTDs result from the failure of the neural tube of the embryo to close by the fourth week of pregnancy, causing birth defects of the brain and spine.2

Some of the key vitamins and minerals that may be deficient in women taking OCs include B vitamins (in particular Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12); folic acid and zinc.2

Vitamin B6 deficiency is associated with a heightened risk of arterial and venous thromboembolism while Vitamin B12 is essential for cell growth and replication. Both Vitamin B12 and folic acid are important in the prevention of NTDs, while folic acid prevents anaemia.2

Zinc plays an important role in the proper function of the immune system and cell growth, while a lack of zinc may lead to anorexia, anaemia, atherosclerosis or affect the immune system.3

Efforts to prevent micronutrient depletion with supplements or food should be considered for women who take OC for a long period.4 Taking appropriate dietary supplements is recommended as the first step, as various factors such as bioavailability, diet, unhealthy lifestyles and illness can also have an impact on the availability of certain nutrients.5

OC-GAP capsules, recently launched by the OTC division of Adcock Ingram, are a combination of essential nutrients that may be depleted as a result of contraceptive treatment.6 OC-GAP is formulated to offer a convenient once daily dosage and each capsule contains: 10 mg of Vitamin B6; 0.1 mg Vitamin B12; 0.4 mg Folic Acid and 15 mg Zinc.6

All the products in the GAP range are supported by clinical data and have been formulated to offer a convenient single daily dosage. Consumers seeking further information should speak to their doctor or pharmacist about the GAP range of supplements.

Further information on the GAP range is available at:

OC-GAP: Each capsule contains Vitamin B6 10 mg; Vitamin B12 0.1 mg; Folic Acid 0.4 mg; Zinc 15 mg.
For full prescribing information refer to the package insert.
Adcock Ingram Limited. Reg. No. 1949/034385/06. Private Bag X69, Bryanston, 2021, South Africa.
Tel. +27 11 635 0000 201804121076467

1. Department of Health, Republic of South Africa 2012. National Contraception Clinical Guidelines. [cited 2018 April 25]; Available from: http://www.
2. Palmery M, Saraceno A, Vaiarelli A and Carlomagno G. Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013;17(13):1804-1813. 5
3. Chasapis CT, Loutsidou AC, Spiliopoulou CA and Stefanidou ME. Zinc and human health: an update. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Apr;86(4):521-34. doi: 10.1007/s00204-011-0775-1. Epub 2011.
4. Park B, Kim J (2016) Oral Contraceptive Use, Micronutrient Deficiency, and Obesity among Premenopausal Females in Korea: The Necessity of Dietary Supplements and Food Intake Improvement. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0158177. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0158177
5. Aloysius Nwabugo Maduforo, Tamimu Yakubu, Chizoba P. Okwy-Nweke, Ifeoma Uzoamaka Onoja and Chinyere C. Okwara, 2016 The Nutritional Implications of Oral Contraceptives on Women. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 15: 800-809 [cited 2018 April 25]; Available from:
6. OC-GAP approved package insert, 2017. - Ends

Notes to the Editor

About the GAP range:

The Adcock Ingram Over the Counter (OTC) division launched a comprehensive range of 10 health supplements during 2017, each specifically formulated to assist in the maintenance of the essential nutrients that may be depleted as a result of chronic (long-term) diseases and the treatment thereof.

Vitamins and minerals are a diverse group of substances that play an important role in patient well-being. Compared to proteins, carbohydrates and fats, the body needs very small amounts of these nutrients to function efficiently.7

About the Adcock Ingram OTC division:

The OTC division competes in the self-medication pharmacy and FMCG sectors of the market, with a complement of 88 premium and economy brands. Well-known brands include Citro-Soda, Corenza Para-C and Allergex Non-Drowsy. The portfolio includes pain, cough and cold, allergy, digestive well-being medication and energy supplements.

References continued:

7. Eat for life: The Food and Nutrition Board’s Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Chronic Disease. [cited 2018 April 25]. Available from: