Nutrient Depletion
From Pharmaceuticals

Nutrient depletion from prescription drugs is a very common occurrence linked to over half the popular medications on the market today.   For the most part, physicians are not aware of this side effect nor does the FDA, with its many safety warnings cover the loss of nutrients.

The mechanism varies by drug type but the results are the same.  They may leach essential vitamins, minerals or key enzymes out of the body.  Some may prevent absorption of key nutrients;
others may interfere with metabolism preventing the body from using some nutrients.

As reported in the June 2011 Newsmax periodical, the FDA has warned of a nutrient depletion only once between January 2010 and March 2011 and that was out of 52 safety communications.  

The one warning applied to Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, all known as proton pump inhibitors, which are prescribed to treat gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn and acid reflux.  

They work by blocking the production of stomach acid but what they also do is deplete magnesium from the body.   Among other things, it is nice to have our required amount of magnesium to properly control our muscles and nerve function.

Frequency of Occurrence

About half of the drugs prescribed for therapeutic interventions have documented nutrient-depleting effects. 

In the case of proton pump inhibitors and magnesium mentioned above, the loss of occurred after taking the drugs for a year or more and the deficiencies were resolved in three-quarters of the cases with magnesium supplements.

Sampling of Well Known
Depletions and Interactions

  • Statin drugs (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) prescribed to lower LDL cholesterol depletes CoQ10; remedied by supplementing with 100-200 mg of CoQ10 per day
  • Metformin, prescribed to treat Type 2 diabetes depletes vitamin B12; remedied by supplementing 1,000 mcg/day or by eating (free range, organic) beef liver or turkey giblets.
  • Coumadin, a blood thinner, and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and Celebrex deplete folic acid;remedied by supplementing with 400 mcg/day or from numerous food sources
  • antivirals, known as reverse transcriptase inhibitors, prescribed for AIDS/HIV intervention deplete carnitine, copper, vitamin 12 and zinc.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis (ibuprofen, aspirin, Naproxin, Celebrex an 13 other prescription drugs work better with fish oil; supplement with 3-4 grams of EPA/DHA/day
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is less toxic when supplemented with 600 mg of N-acetyl cystenine (NAC); no known food source for NAC
  • Aspirin is less likely to cause stomach bleeding if supplemented with 500 mg of vitamin C/day
  • NSAIDS (ibuprofen and others) are less likely to damage the stomach if supplemented with 7 grams of glutamine three times/day or 125 ml of colostrum three times/day
  • There are numerous charts posted online that give information similar to that shown above however many are seen to be based on ten-year old or more information.  The data is likely still accurate but much can change in a decade.

    Anyone can do their own Google search by using keywords such as "drug induced nutrient depletion" or "loss of nutrients from drugs" or similar. 

    The best approach we have found to date is an interactive tool described below in which users can enter their own data and get results back tailored to exactly what they may be consuming.  Read on.

    An Online Tool

    Dr. Leo Galland, a New York practitioner of integrative medicine, has created an incredible online tool for checking the nutrient depleting side effects of prescription drugs.  In addition it shows interactions between most prescription drugs and popular supplements.

    <p>He spent ten years creating the tool and updates it as new information becomes available.

    To access Dr. Galland's database go to http://www.pilladvised.com.

    It is free but does require that one register and agree to the terms before being granted access.  It is not a drug-to-drug interaction checker but is specifically designed to uncover drug-to-supplement interactions.

    Organic, Raw Cacao products from Live Superfoods

    The Whole Point

    It is well known that prescription drugs all have side effects and interactions.  What is not so well known is that they interfere with the use of nutrients by our bodies or outright nutrient depletion.

    The parting message is that if one is taking a prescription medication, and most Americans are, then it is wise to do a little research on what nutrient, if any, that medication may be interfering with.  Use the tool above as a starting point.


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