Nutrient Depletions from Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs have side effects. That is, they have effects which are besides the intended effect. This can vary from person to person. 

The intended effects of drugs are mostly to stop a process in the body, hence the “anti-” designation: anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, anti-hypertensive. These altered processes are most likely produced as the body’s compensation for an imbalance somewhere. When you stop a natural process with a drug, like the stomach producing acid, there are consequences. The symptom – heartburn – may be gone, but the body does not function the same, and over time will result in compromised health. 

One way to understand some of these side effects is that the drugs cause certain nutritional deficiencies when taken over time. Prescription drugs can deplete nutrients through many mechanisms, including impaired nutrient absorption, storage, transport, metabolism, or even excretion. 

There are a large number of studies in medical literature which report the nutrient depletion of certain drugs. I’m sure your drug package insert does not list these, and most doctors who prescribe the drugs are not aware of them. I believe that everyone would serve themselves by becoming informed health consumers.

To that end, here is a list of nutrient depletions for common prescription drugs. This is meant to simply be a starting point, with common brand names of drugs listed. There are several handbooks (see resources at the end), so you can look it up in more detail. If you feel that it is in your best interest to take your prescribed drug, then you will probably have a better health outcome and reduce the risk of the drug’s side effects by supplementing with the listed nutrients. 

5-Aminosalycyclic acid (for bowel inflammation)
Sulfasalazine, Colaza1, Mesalamine
Depletes: Folic acid

Aranesp, Epogen, Procrit, Neulasta         
Depletes: None reported

Antacids (H2 Blockers, Proton Pump Inhibitors)
Nexium, Prevacid, Protonix, Maalox, Mylanta,Tagamet, TUMS, Pepcid, Zantac
Depletes: Calcium, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus, Vitamin D, Folic acid, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B1

Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Pennicillin, Tetracycline, Cephalosporin, Ciprofloxacin
Depletes: Bifidobacteria, Lactobaccillus, Biotin, Potassium, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Vitamins C, E, K, Inositol, Magnesium, Zinc

Depletes: None reported

Anti-Depressants (SSRI)
Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil
Depletes: Folic acid, Vitamins B6, B12, D, Essential Fatty Acids, Sodium

Actos, Metformin, Glucotrol, Avandia
Depletes: CoQ10, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12
Low magnesium levels may predispose to this condition. 

Singulair, Zyrtec
Depletes: Essesential Fatty Acids

Anti-Hypertensives (ACE inhibitors, Beta-Blockers)
Toprol-XL, Norvasc, Lisinopril, Furosemide, Chlorthalidone, Clonidine, Propanolol
Depletes: CoQ10, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin B1

Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen
Depletes: Folic acid, Iron, Potassium, Sodium, Vitamin C, Glutathione

Advair Diskus, Singulair, Albuterol
Depletes: Potassium

Cholesterol-Lowering (STATINS)
Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Cholestyramine, Colesevelam, Fenofibrate
Depletes: CoQ10, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Folic acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamins A, B12, D, E, K

Prednisone, Hydrocortisone, Prednisole, Bethamethasone
Depletes: Calcium, Folic acid, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Vitamins A, B6, C, D, K, ZInc

Furosemide, Hydorchlorothiazide, Triamterene
Depletes: Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Vitamins B1, B6, C, Zinc, CoQ10, Folic acid

Depletes: Vitamins A, D, B12, Folic acid, Iron, Potassium

Hormone Replacement Therapy
Estrace, Premarin, Prempro, Alora
Depletes: Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, Magnesium, Biotin, Pantothenic acid

Metamucil, FiberCon, Citrucel, Colace, Glycolax, Milk of magnesia, Dulcolax
Depletes: Vitamins A, D, E, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium

Oral Contaceptives
Ortho Cyclen, Ortho Novum, Ortho TriCyclen, Triphasil, Seasonale, Yasmin, Ethinyl Estradiol plus Norgestrel
Depletes: Beta-Carotene, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, Folic acid, Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Magnesium, Zinc, Tryptophan, Tyrosine

Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyrexa, Haldol, Amitriptyline
Depletes: Vitamin B2, CoQ10

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Enbrel, Remicade, Methotrezate
Depletes: Folic acid

Sleep Aids
Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, Sonata
Depletes: None reported, but those that act on the GABA-A receptor may deplete Biotin, Calcium, Folic acid, Vitamins B1, B12, D, K

Synthroid, Levothryoxine sodium
Depletes: Iron

All drugs have a hidden side effect that is rarely mentioned. They use up and deplete nutrients. Since they are a chemical, they use up vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients in the works of metabolizing and detoxifying the drug. Therefore, all drugs cause nutrient depletion. And they rob us of nutrients that we could have used to heal our body.