Vitamins And Prescription Drugs
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Prescription Drugs Deplete Vital Nutrients And
The fact may not be new, but
the consequences can be dire. The knowledge that long-term use
of many drugs leads to nutitional deficiencies of specific nutrients
has been documented by a large
number of studies done over the last three decades. Conclusively, these
studies show that drugs
deplete nutrients whether by interfering with absorption, or by
inhibiting transport or metabolism.
Yet this information is not generally communicated to the people taking
these drugs. In the case
of the elderly, who are already likely to suffer from nutritional
deficiencies, the ravages of the
multiple drugs typically prescribed for aging-related diseases could
lead to further and more
serious consequences. In addition, the elderly are more likely to use
such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or antacids. Generally, they
are completely unaware
that these might make them deficient in calcium, phosphorus, folic acid
The elderly are only one
example. Women are another group of drug consumers who should be
especially concerned with drug-induced nutrient depletion. Few women
know that oral
contraceptives lower the levels of such vital nutrients as Vitamin B2,
B6 and B12, Vitamin C,
folic acid, magnesium and Zinc. Mainstream hormone replacement (chiefly
Premarin, but also
Estratab and raloxifene) can also lead to deficiencies in Vitamin B6,
magnesium and zinc. Heart
patients, diabetics, epileptics and heavy users of corticosteroids and
also particularly at risk for drug-induced nutrient deficiencies.
this knowledge, people can then act to protect their health by
their diets and taking supplements
deficiencies are not the only source of people's medical problems. Many
people have high stress, pollution, poor diets and other negative
influences on their health.
However, when individuals take medications that create an additional
nutrient depletion, it
clearly becomes the proverbial "straw that breaks the camel's back."
For instance, a person
suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease is likely to be
deficient in coenzyme Q10, folic acid and magnesium. Unfortunatley, the
prescribed for cardiovascular disease and hypertension tend to deplete
those very nutrients.
Some of the side effects of those drugs may in fact stem from
drug-induced nutrient deficiencies.
To compound the irony, chances are that if the patient had been taking
CoQ10, folic acid and
magnesium, there may not have been a need for these dangerous drugs.
Thus, millions of people
develop serious disorders in which nutrient deficiencies play a
Most American would benefit from taking nutritional supplements
Those who take prescription
drugs have a particular need for learning more about nutrient
depletion so that they can counteract it.
A large number of drugs deplete
CoEnzyme Q10. These include such widely used tricyclic
antidepressants as Elavil (amitriptyline) and Tofranil (imipramine),
the anti-psychotic drug
Haloperidol, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs such a Lovastatin and
anti-diabetic sulfonylurea drugs such as Glucotrol (glipizide) and
Micronase (glyburide), and the
anti-hypertension drug Clonidine. These common drugs, as well as
several others, interfere with
the body's synthesis of CoQ10 and may cause a deficiency of this
crucial compound, so
important for energy production and protection against free radicals.
critical nutrient depletion can be particularly serious in the elderly,
who already suffer from
aging-related CoQ10 deficiency. In fact, a CoQ10 deficiency first
manifests itself as
The results of some studies
suggest that congestive heart failure is primarily a coenzyme Q10
deficiency disease. The same may be true of cardiomyopathy, heart
muscle impairment which
may lead to heart failure. The symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency can include
arrhythmias, mitral valve prolapse, high blood pressure (which may lead
to a stroke), gum
disease, low energy and a weak immune system (which may result in
greater susceptibility to
cancer). Recently it has also been discovered that CoQ10 if very
important for brain health,
and may prevent Parkinsons's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease.
Since CoQ10 is a required
cofactor in energy production in the mitochondria, and thus plays
a critical role in the synthesis of ATP, our "energy molecule", the
chemical fuel used by all cells,
it is not surprising that on tell-tale symptom of a CoQ10 deficiency is
lack of energy and a
feeling of "running on empty" that users of beta-blockers and other
anti-hypertensive drugs often
complain about. It's very simple; no system in our body can run
efficiently and defend itself
against damage and disease if we don't produce enough energy in our
mitochondria, and we
can't produce enough energy without sufficient CoQ10. While CoQ10 is
for the heart and the brain, it is needed by every organ.
While normally we can
synthesize CoQ10, this synthesize is a complicated 17-step process that
depends on adequate nutritiion, with sufficent vitamins annd trace
elements. Thus, malnutrition
is one of the reasons for CoQ10 deficiency. While lean meats and
seafood provide some
dietary CoQ10, it is IMPOSSIBLE to obtain enough CoQ10 from diet alone,
as we grow older.
Again, one of the huge ironies
of mainstream medicine is that many phsicians have not even
heard of CoQ10. They are not aware that declining levels of CoQ10 play
a significant part
in the susceptibility to the diseases of old age, and that so many
drugs aimed at contolling the
symptoms of these diseases further depress CoQ10 levels. Heart patients
and diabetics are in
critical need of effective CoQ10 supplements.
Another sad case of
drug-induced nutient deficiency involves the depletion of folic acid
known as folate and folacin) by a myriad of commonly used drugs.These
include aspirin and
other salicylates, ibuprofen, indomethacin and other non-steroidal
anti-infammatories. Celebrex, unfortunately, also depletes folic acid.
Methotrexate, used in the treatment of rheumatoid
arthritis and various cancers such as leukemia and lymphoms, is
notorious for depleting folic
acid. Likewise, the use of corticosteroids, barbiurates (such as
phenobarbital), sulfa drugs
(such as Bactrim), certain antibiotics, diuretics and oral
contraceptives can cause a deficiency
of folic acid. The widely used anticonvulsive drug Dilantin (phenytoin)
and related drugs also
deplete folic acid.
Folic acid deficiency is one of
the most common vitamin deficiencies. In fact, it may be the
number one vitamin deficiency in North America. It is shocking to
realize how long it has taken
the FDA to mandate adding folic acid to commercial grain products,
chiefly white flour and
breakfast cereal. However, the mandated level of enrichment is still so
low that unless one eats
lots of spinach, broccoli, beans, beets, yeast, eggs and meats (such as
liver and kidneys on a
daily basis), one is likely to need folic acid supplements. At present,
only about a quarter of the
adult U.S. population takes supplements that contain folic acid.
Why the enormous importance of
this B vitamin? By lowering homocysteine, this B vitamin aids
in the prevention of heart disease and stroke, and possibly also
osteoporosis and Alzheimer's
Disease. Symptoms of folic acid deficiency include elevated
homosysteine, anemia, headaches,
fatigue, depression, hair loss, insomnia and increased susceptibility
Again, there are medical
ironies here. Folic Folic acid is helpful in relieving arthritic pain,
drugs commonly prescribed for arthritis deplete folic acid. The cells
of the intestinal lining have a
special need for folic acid because of their high rate of replication;
yet sulfasalazine, a drug
commonly prescribed for colitis, can cause a deficiency of folic acid,
ultimately delaying healing.
It is likely that thousands of
premature deaths of heart disease and stroke could be prevented
through adequate supplementation of folic acid, with at least 400 mcg.
It is a tragedy that this
very important vitamin is not more widely used - especially by those
who need it the most
including millions of users of anti-inflammatory drugs and oral
Another extremely common
dietary deficiency involves magnesium. A USDA survey reported
that 75% of Americans consume less than the RDA of magnesium. Again, a
large number of
commonly prescribed drugs deplete magnesium. These include oral
contraceptives and other
conjugated estogens (Premarin) and esterified estrogens (Estrtab).
Various antibiotics, such as
tetracyclines and doxycline, also deplete magnesium. Diuretics are
another class of
magnesium-depleting drugs, as is digoxin, used in the treatment of
congestive heart failure.
Corticosteroids also deplete magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency goes
hand-in -hand with atherosclerosis, heart attack, hypertension and
stroke. Low levels of magnesium can cause a life-threatening cardiac
spasm, a condition
caused by levels of magnesium falling too low, allowing too much
calcium to enter the cells of
the heart muscle, resulting in a dangerous cramp.
A minor version of the muscular
cramps caused by magnesium deficiency are the leg cramps
that tend to disrupt the sleep of the elderly. Other symptoms of
magnesium deficiency include
insomnia, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, anxiety, depression,
fatigue and osteoporosis.
Migraines and PMS appear to be related to magnesium deficiency.
Interestingly, so is asthma and
kidney stones. All in all, magnesium is by itself one of the best
"drugs" that nature has provided. It could reduce a host of
cardiovascular complications. For
example; like aspirin, magnesium inhibits platelet aggregation; like
Coumadin, magnesium thins
the blood; Like Procardia, a calcium channel blocker, magnesium
prevents excess calcium
uptake; like Vasotec, an ACE inhibitor, magnesium relaxes blood
Zinc deficiency is also rampant
both in the United States and all over the world. It increases
with age due to poor absorption and the inadequate diet of many elderly
and semi-vegetarian diets, low in animal protein and high in
phytate-containing grains, often
lead to zinc deficiency. Zinc-depleted soils are also a factor, as is
food conditions such as
alcoholism, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, macalar degeneration,
diseases and melanoma.
Like magnesium, zinc can be
depleted by a variety of drugs. These include carticosteroids, oral
contraceptives, oral estrogens used in hormone replacement therapy
(including the designer
estrogen raloxifene), ACE inhibitors such as Lotensil (benazepril) and
Altace (ramipril), diuretics
such as Hydrex (benzthiazide), triamterene, and Bumex (bumetanide), the
drug cholestyramine resin and the anti-ulcer drug Cimetidine.
Deficiency symptoms include
slow wound healing, poor sense of smell and taste, problems with
skin, hair and nails (zinc is highly concentrated in skin, hair and
nails), low immune response and
frequent infections, night blindness, excessive sensitivity to light,
depression and even lethargy,
anemia, menstrual and fertility problems, male sterility, various
pregnancy complications and
joint paiin (zinc has some anti-inflammatory activity). Benign prostate
enlargement may reflect
a zinc deficiency. Even stretch marks during pregnancy are due partly
to zinc deficiency
(pregnant women have a hight risk of being deficient in zinc).White
spots on fingernails are a
telltale sign of zinc deficiency.
Drug companies are generally
not required to do nutrient depletion studies, and the funding for
such research is difficult to obtain. Nonetheless, the problem of
depletions can not be ignored. The importance of adding advanced
into your daily regimen, has never been more essential for overall
health and disease prevention.
Take our B-Max
to replace vital nutrients
lost due to taking OTC and precription medications!!
Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook 1999-2000.
by Ross Pelton, R. Ph., PhD., CCN, James B. Lavalle, R. Ph., Ernest B
Hawkins, R. Ph., Daniel L Krinsky,
R. Ph., Lexi-Comp, Inc.'99.