Are Your Prescription Medications Robbing You of Vital Nutrients?

It seems that everyone is taking prescription drugs for something these days: medications for acid reflux, pain, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, sleep, birth control, just to name a few. The use of prescription drugs is extremely prevalent in North America and in most of the Western developed world. The Mayo Clinic presented a study in 2013 that showed that nearly seven out of 10 Americans take prescription drugs. More than half take two drugs. Senior citizens 65 and older take an average of 14 or more prescription drugs per year. The more drugs taken, the greater the risk of negative side effects and nutrient depletion. The nutrient depletions induced by the drug(s) often cause further loss of health.

Nutrient Defined

In order to assess the implications of drug- induced depletion we have to understand
the nutritional needs of individuals.

A nutrient is defined as a substance that our body requires in order to survive and thrive. A healthy body
is made up of about 60% water and about 20% fat (lipids). The other 20% is made up mostly of substances containing protein and carbohydrate
and the major minerals of the bones. Drug-induced nutrient depletion affects levels of vitamins and minerals and
other nutrients like antioxidants in the body. Vitamins are vital for life and good health because of their role in aiding the chemical processes that occur as part of the body’s metabolism. Minerals occur in such structures as bones and teeth. They can also be found in the fluids of the body where they affect fluid and electrolyte balance. Nutrients
 are involved in many of reactions that occur in metabolism and provide the means for transporting materials to cells and taking waste products away from them.


Examples: esomeprazole (Nexium®), rabeprazole (Aciphex®), omeprazole (Prilosec®), pantoprazole (Protonix®)

Drugs that treat acid reflux lower the acidity of the upper GI tract, and also reduce the absorption of much needed vitamins and minerals like B-12, folic acid, calcium and magnesium. They can also deplete iron, zinc, chromium, beta carotene and vitamin C. This is especially problematic for persons over the age of 65 since they’re likely already low in stomach acid. These deficiencies can contribute to high blood pressure, thinning and weakening of the bones, muscle cramps/pain, anemia, and insomnia.

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs-Statins

Examples: rosuvastatin (Crestor®), atorvastatin (Lipitor®), simvastatin (Zocor®)

This type of cholesterol medication depletes Coenzyme Q10 and interferes with vitamin K-2 and selenium. CoQ10 is an essential antioxidant for cellular energy production. Heart, muscles, brain, cholesterol, cell membranes, blood vessels, blood pressure, pancreas, and nervous system function heavily rely on CoQ10.

Sugar Lowering Medications

Examples: metformin (Glucophage®), glimepiride (Amaryl®), glipizide (Glucotrol®), metformin/glyburide (Glucovance®), sitagliptin (Januvia®), glipizide/metformin (Metaglip Diabetes medications rob the body of CoQ10, folic acid, vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12. These deficiencies create tiredness, weakness, anemia, depression, and increased homocysteine levels which can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Heart/Blood Pressure Lowering Drugs

Examples: amlodipine (Norvasc®), losartan (Cozaar®), lisinopril (Prinivil®), ramipril (Altace®), atenolol (Tenormin®), metoprolol (Lopressor®), nifedipine (Procardia®), digoxin (Lanoxin®), hydralazine (Apresoline®), furosemide (Lasix®), to name a few.

Cardiovascular and anti-hypertensive drugs deplete CoQ10, melatonin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B-1, B-6, vitamin C, and Zinc. These depletions create fatigue, sleep dysfunction, bone abnormalities, and electrolyte imbalance.


Examples: tetracyclines, penicillins, erythromycins, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim

All antibiotics reduce gut flora. Gut function declines over time creating immune dysfunction. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies include B vitamins, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Examples: diazepam (Valium®), alprazolam (Xanax®)

These medications deplete melatonin and growth hormone which in turn over time can cause insomnia, depression, and blood sugar changes.

Anti-seizure Medications

Examples: Phenobarbital, topiramate (Topamax®), divalproic sodium (Depakote®), gabapentin (Neurontin®), pregabalin (Lyrica®)

These medications deplete calcium, vitamins D, E, B-6, B-9, B-12, carnitine, DHA fatty acid, copper, selenium, and zinc, possibly creating memory loss, neurologic problems, hair loss, slow wound healing, depression, increased homocysteine levels which could contribute to cardiovascular disease and decreased immune system function.

Oral Contraceptives

Examples: Alesse, Ortho-tri-cyclen lo, Cyclessa, Estrostep Fe, etc.

OCs deplete vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, B-9 (folic acid), B-12, vitamins C and E, selenium, magnesium, and zinc.

Many of these deficiencies can create depression, memory loss, muscle weakness, irritability, skin problems, anemia, fatigue,
hair loss, neurological issues, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and a weakened immune system.

Studies have shown that oral estrogen supplementation increases magnesium uptake into bone and soft tissue, causing lowered blood magnesium levels. This change leads to calcium and magnesium changes and can lead to an increase in clotting.


Examples: amitriptylline (Elavil®), chlorpromazine (Thorazine®), aripiprazole (Abilify®), citalopram (Celexa®), sertraline (Zoloft®), fluoxetine (Prozac®)

These medications deplete CoQ10, melatonin, vitamins B-2 and B-6. These deficiencies can increase lipid levels, create skin problems (i.e., acne, scaly skin), tiredness, insomnia, depression, blood sugar changes, growth hormone deficiency, and risk for cardiovascular disease.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Examples: prednisone, dexamethasone, celecoxib (Celebrex®), indomethacin (Indocin®), piroxicam (Feldene®), ibuprofen, naproxen.

These drugs deplete vitamins A, B-9 (Folic Acid), B-12, C, and D, calcium, chromium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

The deficiencies in vitamins and minerals mentioned above can create unhealthy bones, vision problems, anemia, depression, bone and muscle weakness, high blood pressure, muscle cramps, insomnia, blood sugar dysregulation, tiredness, edema, dizziness, decreased immune system function, slow wound healing, loss of taste and smell, sexual dysfunction.

Drug-induced nutrient depletions occur when the medications we are taking for our various health conditions block the absorption, storage, metabolism production of essential nutrients in the body. When nutrients are blocked or depleted over a prolonged period of time, other health problems secondary to those depletions can occur. Bring us your medications to identify possible nutrient depletions, and let us help restore you to health.

Zoom Heaton | Aiken Bella Magazine

Zoom Heaton is the owner of TLC Medical Centre Inc., an Independent Community Pharmacy and Medical Equipment facility located at 190 Crepe Myrtle Drive off Silver Bluff Road. A pharmacist, she is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator and is certified in Immunization; she is also the chief compounding pharmacist at Custom Prescription Compounders, LLC, inside TLC Medical Centre, Inc., specializing in Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy and Women’s Health. Call 803.648.7800 or visit for more information.