The Effect of Pharmacological Drugs on Nutritional Status

There are many pharmacological medications that have been found to effect nutrient levels. Remember, nutrients play VITAL roles in the function of ALL body systems: the musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, nervous system, lymphatic system, respiratory system, endocrine system, digestive system, reproductive system and urinary system. ALL of these systems are run by NUTRIENTS!! Deficiencies can lead to dysfunction like hypothyroid function, poor detoxification, increased risk for inflammatory conditions, poor immune function, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, etc. If you are taking any of the medications listed below, it is important that you replete with supplements to counter act the drug induced deficiency. The possibility to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies by taking appropriate dietary supplements should be considered a first-line approach by ALL clinicians.

Below we list some of the most common pharmacologic agents used and the deficiencies caused. There are MANY more than the list below. Review the full and specific list here to see if you may be taking something that requires additional supplementation: 

  • Oral contraceptives deplete many B vitamins such as folate, B2, B6, B12, vitamins C and E, and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc.
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, advil, and naproxen deplete iron and folate.
  • Tylenol depletes important antioxidants like glutathione.
  • Aspirin depletes iron, folate and vitamin C.
  • Antibiotics depletes many B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, B6, folate, B12, biotin, and vitamin K
  • Antifungals deplete the minerals magnesium and potassium
  • Anti-diabetes agents: insulin is known to deplete the mineral magnesium while metformin causes a depletion of crucial B vitamins; folate, B12 and thiamine.
  • Anti-hypertensive agents deplete both zinc and B6.
  • Cholesterol reducing drugs (statins) deplete CoQ10.
  • Diuretics deplete the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium; B vitamins folate and thiamine; and vitamin C.
  • Antacids deplete calcium, phosphate salts, chromium, folate, and iron.
  • Hormone replacement therapy depletes folate, magnesium, B6, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin A, B12, vitamin C and zinc.
  • Thyroid hormones such as levothyroxine and armour deplete calcium.
  • Alcohol depletes glutathione.
  • Sunscreen depletes vitamin D.

Remember there are other considerations in regards to your nutrient status. Pharmacological drugs play a role as you have learned, but so does the health of your gut and your genetics. To understand your specific needs, and to see the impact specific pharmacologic agents have made on your nutrient status, the first step is to get tested. This gives us a baseline from which we can gauge progress, and helps us tailor a program specific to you and your needs. Nutrient deficiencies can also point to other conditions preventing your body from functioning to its potential.

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