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Vitamins And Prescription Drugs

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Prescription Drugs Deplete Vital Nutrients And Vitamins!!

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 non-prescription drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or antacids. Generally, they are completely unaware that these might make them deficient in calcium, phosphorus, folic acid and iron.

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 anti-inflammatories are also particularly at risk for drug-induced nutrient deficiencies.

Armed with this knowledge, people can then act to protect their health by modifying their diets and taking supplements

Drug-induced nutrient 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 drugs commonly 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 significant role.

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.

Coenzyme 10

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 Pravastatin, beta-blockers, 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. This drug-induced 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 cardiovascular symptoms.

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 angina, cardiac 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 especialy important 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, particularly 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.

Folic acid Defiency

Another sad case of drug-induced nutient deficiency involves the depletion of folic acid (also 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 to infection.

Again, there are medical ironies here. Folic Folic acid is helpful in relieving arthritic pain, but the 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 contraceptives.

Drugs and Magnesium

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 vessels.

Zinc Deficiency

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 people. Vegetarian 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, inflammatory bowel 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 cholesterol-lowering 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 drug-incuced nutrient depletions can not be ignored. The importance of adding advanced multivitamin supplements 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.