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Medications that cause nutritional deficiencies

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I saw in a recent post that a few people were considering beta-blockers (adderall, intuniv). I'd come across something recently that said beta-blockers can cause a nutritional deficiency but I couldn't remember the specifics. So I googled and found this article, which lists issues with antibiotics as well:



Drugs that steal

by Hoffman Center Staff

Is there a thief hiding in your medicine cabinet? If you are currently taking a prescription medication, the answer to that question would be yes. Prescription medications deplete the body of essential nutrients. The ways that drugs negatively affect the status of nutrients in the body include inhibition of absorption, synthesis, transportation, storage, metabolism or excretion of individual nutrients. Older adults are especially in the high risk group of developing nutrient deficiencies due to the multiple prescription drugs they are taking, in addition to consuming inadequate diets, thus compounding the problem of nutrient deficiency. In 1991, older Americans filled 650 million prescriptions for drugs. The latest survey data indicate that 86% of Medicare beneficiaries are taking prescription medication.

Many commonly prescribed medications may in some cases actually deplete your body of essential nutrients needed to treat the condition you are taking the medication to address. For example, beta blockers used to treat hypertension, angina, and arrhythmia, deplete the body of coenzyme Q10, which according to numerous scientific research (most recently in the March 1999 Journal of Human Hypertension), is actually part of the protocol to treat such conditions.


Let's take a look at some classes of commonly prescribed medications and the nutrients they deplete.


Antiarrhythmic agents: Digoxin depletes calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and B1. Phenytoin, which is used for ventricular arrhythmia, as well as grand mal, simple partial and complex partial seizures, depletes the body of biotin, calcium, folic acid, thiamin, B12, vitamin D, and vitamin K.


Antihypertensives: Beta blockers (used for hypertension, angina, and arrhythmia) deplete coenzyme Q10. ACE inhibitors (benazepril, captopril, enalapril, fosinopril, lisinopril), collectively deplete the body of zinc. Hydrochlorothiazide and triamterene deplete the body of B6, folic acid, and calcium.


Antilipemic agents: Cholestyramine resin and colestipol deplete the body of beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin A, B12, vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Statin drugs (atorvastatin, cerivastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin) deplete the body of coenzyme Q10.


Antidiabetic agents: metformin (glucophage), acetohexamide (dymelor), glyburide (diabeta, glynase, prestab, micronase), tolazaminde (tolinase), tolbutamide (orinase), as a group deplete coenzyme Q10, with desipramine also depleting the body of B12. Since diabetes is a cardiovascular disease risk factor, the depletion of these nutrients places the individual at increased risk, due to the fact that coenzyme Q10 and B12 contribute to proper cardiovascular health.


Antibiotics: Besides destroying beneficial gut bacteria that aid digestion, protect against infection, and synthesize certain nutrients, tetracyclines (achromycin, sumycin, tetracap, panmycin), penicillins, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, and sulfonamides, deplete the body of B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, biotin, inositol, vitamin K, iron, and magnesium.


Antidepressants: Amoxapine (asendin), desipramine (norpramin), nortriptyline (aventyl hydrochloride), protriptyline (vivactil), amitriptyline (elavil), clomipramine (anafranil), doxepin (adapin), and imipramine (tofranil) deplete the body of coenzyme Q10 and B2.


Anti-inflammatory agents: The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs diclofenac, diflunisal, etodolac, fenoprofen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, mefenamic acid, nabumetone, naproxen, and piroxicam all deplete the body of folic acid.


Estrogens (conjugated and esterified): Premarin, estratab, and menest, deplete the body of B6, magnesium, and zinc.


What can be done? First, make sure the prescribed medication is absolutely necessary by seeking advice from a nutritionally oriented physician. If no alternatives are available, discuss the need for replacing the depleted nutrients with your primary care physician, in addition to working with a nutritionist to help you design a healthy diet. By obtaining information from health professionals, and working closely with your doctor, you can avoid being a victim of drugs that steal.



Best Pills Worst Pills II, Sidney M. Wolfe, MD, Rose-Ellen Hope, R.Ph, Public Citizen's Health Research Group, Washington DC, 1993.

Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, Ross Pelton, RPh, Ph.D., CCN; James B. LaValle, RPh, DHM, NMD, CCN; Ernest B. Hawkins, RPh, MS; Daniel L. Drinsky, RPh, MS, Lexicomp Clinical Reference Library, 1999.

Heart Drugs, Martin Goldman, MD, Henry Holt Publishing, Inc., New York, 1992.

Singh RB; Niaz MA; Rastogi SS; Shukla PK; Thakur AS, Effect of hydrosoluble coenzyme Q10 on blood pressures and insulin resistance in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease. J Hum Hypertens 1999 Mar;13(3):203-8.




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Just because I am now on a Buhner jag, he mentions in his mycoplasma/bartonella coinfection book that the parasitic behaviour of the many, many species of mycoplasma is responsible for the severe nutrient deficiencies which cause many of the symptoms of these infections. He has also found associations (causative or not?) between mycoplasma infection and demylinating diseases and some cancers. Interesting that Dr Terry Wahls has found remission from her secondary progressive MS with a intensive nutrition/paleo type diet.


Thank you for the drug/deficiency list. You do a lot of leg-work for the forum.

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I recently took my DS13 to different Peds in my son's practice as ours since birth has left. She looked at his supplemental vitamins- CoQ10 and B complex and asked me who put him on those ....I said ME!! Based on my own research of his prescription meds.


He is on Rx Lamictal and Zoloft only. She said that "I was very smart to do so and these were both excellent for him to be on in light of his prescription medications."


CoQ10 for the SSRI use is essential.


Got kudos from Peds on supplements...not often that you get that. Most of the time they sorta look at you and roll their eyes like "well, if you want to waste the money- go ahead." However, she did not...actually gave me a compliment on the usage and choices I had made. Made me feel like it was finally money well spent!!

Edited by 911RN
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