Drug and Nutrient Depletion

Drugs are artificial substances which have to be metabolized and detoxed by the body, no matter how much benefit you may derive from them.  Nutrient depletion caused by drugs is a relatively new area of research – side effects of drugs have to be legally reported, but current legislation does not require the effects of drugs on your nutritional status to be either researched or reported.

There is, however, a growing body of research which points to the fact that just by taking a prescription medicine on a regular basis we are depleting our body of essential nutrients.  This ‘silent side effect’ can lead us to a situation where the depletion causes further problems which are rarely attributed to the original drug, so another drug is prescribed to offset these symptoms and so on.  It is a fact that a lack of certain essential nutrients leads to disease.

So what can you do to offset this effect, and ensure that you do not make any problem you have worse?  The simple solution is to supplement whatever is being depleted to ensure this issue does not arise.  The table below sets out the latest knowledge with regard to drugs and nutrient depletion.

* a good multivitamin needs to be taken as a matter of course

Condition Drug Type Known Depletions
Depression Anti-depressants B2, Co-Q10
Blood Pressure & Heart Problems Beta blockersDiuretics




ACE inhibitor

Cardiac glycoside (digoxin)

Co-Q10Zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, B1, B6, Vit C, folic acid, Co-Q10, phosphate

Zinc, Co-Q10

Calcium, magnesium, phosphate, B1

Cholesterol StatinsCholesterol binding


Co-Q10, Vit EMany nutrients affected but particularly Co-Q10, Vit D, E and A and carotenoids
Bacterial infections Antibiotics Friendly flora, B vits, Vit K, A, D, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, carnitine, phosphorus
Fungal infections Antifungals Calcium, potassium, magnesium
Viral infections Antivirals Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, B12, carnitine, copper, zinc
Diabetes Diabetic medications Co-Q10, folic acid, B12   *also take antioxidants
Arthritis,Joints pains, muscle injury, swelling Anti-inflammatories Calcium, Vit D, C, potassium, zinc, magnesium, folic acid, selenium, iron
Epilepsy, continuous pain Anti convulsants Folic acid, calcium, vit D, K, B1, B12, biotin, carnitine
Menopause HRT medications Magnesium, B vits esp B6
Contraception The Pill Vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, B vits esp B6, B12, B2, folic acid, tryptophan, tyrosine
Acid reflux, ulcers AntacidsAnti-ulcer drugs Calcium, phosphate, Vit D, B12, iron, zinc, folic acid, beta-carotene
Gout Colchicine Vit B12, sodium, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium
Asthma Theophylline Vit B6
Constipation Laxatives Sodium, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, phosphorus, Vit A, D, E, K, magnesium
Parkinson’s Disease Levodopa (dopamine) Potassium, SAM-e
Mental illness, including OCD, bipolar Haloperidol (antipsychotic)Lithium



B2, Co-Q10

Potassium depletion Potassium replacement meds Vit B12
Pain relief Tablets including  Acetaminophen Glutathione, cysteine
Autoimmune disorders, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, severe psoriasis Methotrexate (maxtrex) Folic acid
Weight loss Orlistat(Xenical) Vit D, E, beta-carotene


© S Salmon  2007