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