Replenishing the Nutrients Depleted by Drugs

Replenishing the Nutrients Depleted by Drugs

Replenishing the Nutrients Depleted by DrugsDrug-induced nutrient depletion is an important topic, however 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 4 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.

Who are most susceptible to nutrient depletion?

      •   Elderly (renal & liver issues)
      •   Multiple drug users
      •   Poor eaters
      •   Those with digestive issues
      •   Those with pH imbalances (acidosis)
      •   Smokers
      •   Alcoholics & frequent alcohol users

Drugs Deplete Nutrients Replenish nutrients with nutrient rich foodIf 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.

ACID-BLOCKING DRUGS (e.g. Losec, Nexium, Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) 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 & casein) can help gut issues. Kiwifruit contain protein-digesting enzymes that can relieve constipation, gas and bloating caused by improper digestion.

ANTIBIOTICS 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 – 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 2 hours away from many types of antibiotics, as they can bind to antibiotics and reduce absorption of both.

As of 2015, approximately 80 per cent 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 MEDS (e.g. Xanax, Valium, Ativan) and the ANTI-DEPRESSANTS Prozac 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 1.5-3 mg per night, to ensure the melatonin is not causing side effects.

FEMALE HORMONES (e.g. oral contraceptives, bio-identical hormones containing estrogen, or synthetic estrogens) 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 favorable metabolism of estrogens instead of producing carcinogenic metabolites. Including a multi vitamin/mineral is highly recommended when taking female hormones.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs, NSAIDS (e.g. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Indomethacin, Diclofenac) deplete folic acid, iron and vitamin C.  NSAIDs also deplete melatonin. Aspirin (e.g. Bufferin, Bayer, Baby ASA) 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 3x 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.

Statin Drugs (e.g. Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor, Lipitor) 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.

Drugs Deplete NutrientsThere 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/
    4. Full References

RoseMarie Pierce B.Sc.Pharm.RoseMarie Pierce, B.Sc.Pharm, is a holistic consultant with more than 40 years experience in both conventional and natural medicine.

She is a highly respected lecturer, writer, and media personality within the natural health industry, and serves in a senior capacity with Prairie Naturals Health Products.