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Vitamin D Levels May Drop When Women Stop Using Birth Control

Women risk having their vitamin D levels fall when they stop using birth control pills or other contraceptives containing estrogen, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Vitamin D is a hormone involved in the immune system and managing calcium levels in the blood. Proper calcium levels are necessary for bone health.

The body produces vitamin D in a chemical reaction when the skin is exposed to sunlight. A smaller portion of the body's vitamin D supply -- about 10 percent -- comes from food, including fatty fish and milk fortified with the vitamin. Chemical changes to vitamin D are needed to produce the active form.

During pregnancy, women produce increased amounts of the active form of vitamin D to support formation of the fetal skeleton. As a result, pregnant women face an increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency, according to the Endocrine Society's Clinical Practice Guideline on vitamin D deficiency.

"Our study found that women who were using contraception containing estrogen tended to have higher vitamin D levels than other women," said the study's first author, Qu

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