Drug-induced nutrient depletion is an important topic, but most consumers know very little about it. More than 400 prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to cause multiple nutritional deficiencies. Over the last four decades, in excess of 600 scientific studies have documented the evidence.1 2 Unfortunately, this potentially life-saving information has not been made widely available.
The side effects from these nutrient losses can affect energy, mood, libido, the immune system, the ability to ward off degenerative diseases, and can even shorten life. Pharmaceutical drugs rob vital nutrients by interfering with the ability to properly digest, absorb, transport, metabolize, synthesize, utilize, or excrete vital nutrients.
If it is necessary to take medication, it is recommended to cover the bases nutritionally through the addition of superfoods and natural supplements along with a healthy diet containing an abundance of local and organic fruits and vegetables. Commercially grown produce and packaged foods will not provide the kind of nutrition needed. Many reliable studies now indicate that modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil.3
The following is an easy-to-follow path through some of the most common drug categories that affect health by depleting valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I have also included the foods and supplements recommended to replenish the body and meet its optimal needs.
e.g. Losec, Nexium, Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac
These drugs deplete vitamins B1, B12, and D, folic acid, iron, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. A high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral plus a liquid solution form of calcium, magnesium, and iron are suggested to replenish these nutrients. Acid-blocking drugs substantially decrease production of stomach acid, causing potential bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine. When using these drugs, it is important to take probiotics (acidophilus/bifidus) and consume fermented vegetables (sauerkraut) and beverages (kombucha, kefir). Acid-blocking drugs also interfere with proper protein digestion and the production of adequate digestive juices. A potent digestive enzyme that also breaks down the hard-to-digest proteins (e.g., gluten and casein) can help gut issues. Kiwi fruit contain protein-digesting enzymes that can relieve constipation, gas, and bloating caused by improper digestion.
Deplete folic acid, biotin, vitamin B complex, and vitamin K2. They also immediately wipe out certain strains of friendly bacteria flora that colonize the intestinal tract and support healthy digestion and immune function. Unfortunately, antibiotics can create a massive gut bacteria imbalance, encouraging the presence of obesity-promoting bacteria. Researchers speculate antibiotic usage is a major contributor to both obesity and diabetes. The healthy bacteria can be replaced with a probiotic supplement and fermented foods during and following use of this type of medication. Also, look to replenish with 30 to 100 mcg daily of vitamin K2-M7, normally made by friendly intestinal bacteria. Note: mineral supplements (magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, selenium, iodine) need to be taken at least two hours away from many types of antibiotics, as they can bind to antibiotics and reduce absorption of both.
As of 2015, approximately 80% of the antibiotics consumed in Canada are destined for livestock either for preventing illness or promoting growth. What are the effects on the human body?
Anti-anxiety & Anti-depression Meds
e.g. Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Prozac
These drugs deplete melatonin, a very important anti-cancer hormone that plays a pivotal role in sleep and immune function. Melatonin also plays a key role as the biological “time keeper” of hormone secretions. Ideally, melatonin supplementation is started at a low dose, between 1.5 and 3 mg per night, to ensure the melatonin is not causing side effects.
e.g. oral contraceptives, bio-identical hormones containing estrogen, or synthetic estrogens
These drugs deplete the body of vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, and friendly gut bacteria, regardless of the form of estrogen. As well, oral contraceptives deplete vitamins C, B12, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, magnesium, and selenium. Increasing dietary intake of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, mustard greens, turnip, arugula) can increase the safety of this medication by promoting favourable metabolism of estrogens instead of producing carcinogenic metabolites. Including a multi-vitamin/mineral in your routine is highly recommended when taking female hormones.
Drugs, NSAIDS e.g. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Indomethacin, Diclofenac
These drugs deplete folic acid, iron, and vitamin C. NSAIDs also deplete melatonin.
e.g. Bufferin, Bayer, Baby ASA
These drugs deplete all of the above as well as pantothenic acid (Vit. B5), calcium, potassium, and sodium. Folic acid or folate is a water-soluble vitamin eliminated from the urine like most B vitamins, and is destroyed by many different drugs. A three times per day multi-vitamin/mineral supplement that provides at least 300 mcg of folic acid per capsule is ideal. The highest food sources of folate are dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, and legumes.
e.g. Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor, Lipitor
These drugs deplete Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin K2, and CoQ10-each an important nutrient for the health of the cardiovascular system. In a March 2015 PubMed journal article, the authors state: “the epidemic of heart failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the modern world may paradoxically be aggravated by the pervasive use of statin drugs.” In order to protect oneself from the adverse effects of these drugs, it is advisable to supplement with the following: vitamin K2-M7, a fish oil Omega-3 blend, and at least 100 mg of a high-quality CoQ10.
There is a growing realization in the medical community that long-term drug treatments of many of the most common drugs can deplete a number of vitamins and minerals and may be harming patients. As a consumer, check for possible drug-nutrient depletions and take the necessary steps to replenish the body’s nutrient levels.
1. Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, et al., Lexi-Comp. Inc. 1999. 2. http://naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?pt=14 3. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/
Post by: RoseMarie Pierce B.Sc. Pharm. Holistic Pharmacist