Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletions
By Stephanie Finucane
Prescription inserts, also known as prescribing information, are those wordy documents neatly folded up in the box containing medication or stapled to the bag your local drug store puts prescription drugs in. These hard-to-read documents contain the relevant information known about a drug upon approval, including indication, mechanism of action, side effects, warnings, drug interactions, etc.
However, what the prescription insert does not likely include is information on how that particular medication may deplete your body of nutrients. In fact, most classes of drugs deplete the body of nutrients and, therefore, likely end up causing other health issues down the road. Drugs can do this in multiple ways, including by inhibiting absorption, synthesis, storage, metabolism, or excretion of a nutrient. Additionally, a drug could simply bind to a receptor site, enzymes, or transport proteins.1
We do comprehensive advanced blood work covered by insurance to identify nutrient depletions. We can also offer HMTA Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. We have I.V. Nutrient protocols to address specific vitamin and mineral depletions.
And if you are taking a particular drug over a long period of time, other health issues may arise, according to Ross Pelon, RPh, PhD, and author of The Drug- Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook and co-author of The Nutritional Cost of Drugs. As Pelton explains in a recent article, “Consider the following scenario: a woman who has been taking oral contraceptives for eight years, seemingly without any problems. However, over the past six months, she has been increasingly complaining to her husband that she is tired all the time. She has trouble getting up in the morning, or by mid-afternoon, she feels so exhausted, she can hardly function. Oral contraceptives deplete folic acid, vitamin B12, coenzyme Q10, and magnesium. Each of these nutrients is critically important for energy production. A depletion of any one of these nutrients can cause tiredness, weakness, lethargy and/or anemia over time. However, this woman probably doesn’t realize that the medication she has been taking for years has been causing nutrient depletions that are now causing health problems.”1
Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies do not tend to fund research into the potential for nutrient depletions associated with their drugs. That research effort is left up to astute health care practitioners, many of whom have reported their observations of drug-induced nutrient depletions in the more than 500 published studies.
But many in the health care industry are not aware of this research. And so, when patients present with health issues like the one in Pelton’s scenario above, the drug-induced nutrient depletions are not identified. Instead, an additional drug is prescribed—when an appropriate nutritional supplement could be recommended to prevent or correct such problems, states Pelton.1
To learn more about what drugs commonly deplete the body of nutrients as well as what nutrients are most likely depleted by medications, access Pelton’s article here.
Pelton R. Drug Induced Nutrient Depletions. Townsend Letter. 2019;436:50-53. https://www.townsendletter.com/article/436-drug-induced-nutrient-depletions-pelton/.