Are Your Medications Depleting Nutrients From Your Body?
“I’m on numerous medications for cholesterol, acid reflux and hormone replacement, just to name a few. I heard somewhere these drugs can deplete the body of vitamins. Is this true and are there any supplements I should be taking?”
A: Yes. Many medications can deplete vital nutrients from the body. It’s important to be aware of the potential deficiencies that can result from taking certain medications, which can complicate existing health conditions or contribute to the onset of new ones.
Statins for example, are known for depleting the body of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which can cause muscle aches and pain, weakness, fatigue and constipation. Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked to a wide range of other conditions including cancer, diabetes, lowered immune function and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Anti-ulcer and heartburn medications, one of the largest selling category of drugs, also interferes with the absorption of nutrients and greatly impairs digestion and the breakdown of proteins.
These drugs work by lowering the amount of stomach acid, which can relieve the pain associated with heartburn, acid indigestion and ulcers. However, the level of acidity in the gastrointestinal tract is a critical factor that regulates the absorption of many nutrients. In the process of making the GI tract less acidic, anti-ulcer medications inhibit the absorption of various vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown these drugs deplete B12, folic acid, vitamin D, and the minerals calcium, iron, and zinc. They also make it difficult to digest and absorb protein because protein needs an acidic environment to be absorbed. Because acid lowering drugs are associated with the depletion of vitamin D, calcium and iron, they have been linked to problems such as osteoporosis, muscle weakness, tooth decay, hearing loss and heart and blood pressure irregularities. Depletion of iron can also result in hair loss, brittle nails, anemia,weakness, fatigue and low energy.
The mineral magnesium is another example, which plays a role in approximately 300 functions in the body. There are over 100 drugs that cause magnesium depletion such as estrogen containing medications and antibiotics.
Even though I truly believe the foundation to good health is rooted in whole food nutrition, I also feel there is a time and place for life saving medications.
The following chart is just a quick list of some commonly prescribed medications and the nutrients they deplete. This chart should only be used as a guide to help you formulate a nutrition plan that best suits your needs to avoid nutritional deficiencies, and is not a diagnostic tool.
*Before taking any vitamin or supplement, it’s always best to consult with your doctor, pharmacist or natural health care practitioner who is aware of all the medications you are taking.