Top Medications That Rob Your Body Of Nutrients
Did you know that somewhere between 30 and 50% of the prescription drugs on the market will cause drug-induced nutrient depletion? They rob your body of substances that it needs for good health. And vitamin and mineral deficiencies not only affect your health, they increase your risk for developing disease.
Sadly, this side-effect is rarely noted on drug labels. Even worse, in most cases your doctor doesn’t even know about it or doesn’t discuss it with you.
How Do Some Drugs Cause Nutrient Depletion?
There are basically two ways medications can cause nutrient depletion. One is that a drug can affect the synthesis of nutrients in your body – because, for example, your body makes certain vitamins. A drug might block the chemical pathway and prevent the vitamins from being made. The other way is the drug slows or blocks the absorption of the vitamin or mineral in your digestive tract.
The Most Commonly Used Drugs That Deplete Nutrients
- blood pressure medications
- cholesterol medications
- diabetes drugs
- heartburn drugs
- depression medications
- birth control drugs
- Parkinson’s medications
So, just how serious is the nutrient depletion from medications?…
Water soluble nutrients, like the B vitamins and vitamin C, are very vulnerable to depletion, particularly from diuretic drugs intended to treat blood pressure, glaucoma, and edema. Diuretics increase urinary excretion, which causes nutrient loss.
One group of diuretics, called potassium-sparing diuretics, is supposed to keep you from becoming depleted in potassium. But they’ll still rob your body of folic acid and vitamin B9. Your body uses folic acid thousands of times a day to duplicate cells, build muscles, heal injuries, and produce important chemicals for brain function.
Another class of diuretics, called loops, is known for reducing levels of calcium and magnesium, as well as phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B1. These minerals are critical for bone health and for the absorption of other nutrients like vitamin D. Too little potassium and vitamin B1 threatens the health of your heart, your muscles, and your nervous system.
These medications are widely used to reduce inflammation and sometimes for treating epilepsy, but may reduce your levels of calcium and vitamin D.
Metformin, used for diabetes, depletes the body of B12 and folic acid. B12 plays a huge role in your immune system, energy metabolism, and the health of your nerves. B12 also helps your body use iron and regulates levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in your blood. Without adequate B12, homocysteine levels get too high, greatly increasing risk for heart disease.
These deplete B6, B12, and folic acid. B6 is involved in making brain chemicals, something that’s vital for everyone, particularly for somebody with a brain disorder. B6 is involved in producing energy and creating proteins and red blood cells. It works with vitamin B12 and folic acid to process homocysteine. Again, this is extremely important for your heart health. Just a mild deficiency in B6 can raise homocysteine levels and put your heart at risk.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
These drugs are supposed to treat heartburn, but interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium. PPIs reduce stomach acid, which is the opposite of what you need to do to get rid of heartburn. You need enough stomach acid along with digestive enzymes and proteins for your body to be able to absorb vitamin B12. So taking a drug to lessen your stomach acid is a sure way to lower your body’s reserves of B12.
Statins block the synthesis of CoQ10. Your body makes CoQ10 to provide your cells with energy – it’s a key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient. Researchers have found a link between low levels of CoQ10 and heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and brain disorders. Since your body naturally produces less CoQ10 as you age, it’s one of five or six dietary supplements that all adults should take – doubly so for those taking statin drugs. These medications also inhibit the production of vitamin K2, with keeps calcium from building up in the arteries. It makes me wonder why anyone would think these drugs are a good solution to the problem of heart disease. Depleting your body of K2 works against the goal.
Mental Health Drugs
Antidepressants can deplete your body of sodium, which is a key mineral for healthy nervous system function. They can also interfere with melatonin secretion.
Antipsychotics & Anti-Anxiety Drugs
These may deplete you of vitamin B2 and calcium. Since B2 is needed to regulate your thyroid, weight gain is a common side-effect of these drugs.
Synthetic Oral Contraceptives & Hormone Replacement Therapy
These medications put you at risk for loss of vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
The list of vitamins and minerals that are diminished by antibiotic use is too long for a simple blog.
In attempting to fight infection, antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, including the good ones in your gut that support your health. Those good gut bacteria are the very foundation of your immune system, so antibiotics actually make it harder in the future to fight infection naturally.
Getting probiotics each day is incredibly important, through food and supplements, especially if you’re on antibiotics.
Avoiding Nutrient Depletion Moving Forward…
- If you’re taking a medication, especially on a long-term basis, be aware of all of the ways the drug can affect your health.
- Increase healthy food intake and use supplements to replace depleted nutrients.
- If you can discontinue the drug use by improving some aspect of your lifestyle, especially your diet, you really need to move in that direction. All drugs have side-effects and most are toxic to your body, even though they’re prescribed by your doctor who is trying to help you.
In terms of a philosophy about the responsible use of medical drugs, the idea would be to use them only when absolutely necessary, and to handle your diet or lifestyle in such a way as to regain your health so you can get off the drugs as quickly as possible. As obvious that seems, it’s just not the way that the pharmaceutical industry promotes its products. So it’s you that needs to take this responsible viewpoint.
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