March 5, 2011

029 Drug-Induced Nutritional Deficiencies [14 Sept 2009]

My customers often ask if a supplement will interfere with the medications they are taking. This is an important question and I usually refer them to their pharmacist for this information.  A related and equally important question is how their medications interfere with their nutrient status. For this I refer to a 2000 book by Ross Pelton and James LaValle called The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs.

This book describes nutrient depletions known to be caused by commonly used prescription and non-prescription drugs. The authors reviewed and summarized thousands of published medical studies. Here are a few examples (greatly simplified):

·        Antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria in the GI tract leading to depletion of B vitamins and Vitamin K (if the good bacteria are not re-established with probiotics)
·        NSAID Anti-Inflammatory Drugs deplete Folic Acid  (essential for preventing birth defects)
·        Magnesium and Aluminum Antacids deplete Calcium, Phosphorus, Folic Acid
·        Sodium Bicarbonate depletes Potassium, Folic Acid
·        Antihistamines deplete Melatonin (necessary for sleep)
·        Aspirin & Salicylates deplete Vitamin C, Calcium, Folic Acid, Iron, Potassium, Sodium, Vitamin B5
·        Cholesterol Lowering Drugs (Statins) deplete Coenzyme Q10, necessary (ironically) for cardiovascular health
·        Diuretics (depending on the type) may deplete Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Vitamins B1, B6, C, Folic Acid
·        Hormone Replacement Therapy and Oral Contraceptives deplete Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C and Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc
·        Laxatives (depending on the form) may deplete Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus and the fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E, K
·        and many more…

This is not to suggest you do not use necessary drugs, but to be aware of their nutritional consequences. Supplementing with the affected nutrients may prevent or reduce many of the drugs’ side effects. Ideally a prescription for a drug would come with the balancing prescription for the affected nutrients. I wonder if we will live to see that day!

As well as asking your physician or pharmacist “What herbs or supplements should I avoid while taking this drug?” also ask “What supplements should I be taking to counteract nutrient depletions caused by this drug?” If they can’t answer to your satisfaction, offer to buy them a copy of this book.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner

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