Your Prescriptions May Be Harming Your Nutritional Status


Nearly everyone takes a prescription medication at one time or another in their lifetime. Some medications manage acute conditions and others manage chronic disease symptoms. All medications, whether taken short or long term, have specific functions designed to eliminate or manage symptoms. Unfortunately, they also have some drawbacks that most people are unaware of:  every medication causes at least one nutrient deficiency, and possibly more.

Short term use are less concerning than long term use medications when it comes to nutrient deficiencies. Once the prescription is discontinued, the body is likely to bounce back and recover from the deficiency through regular daily healthy food intake. But everyone is different, and some people may need a bit more support in nutrient repletion. Many, many people, however, take medications designed for long term use for management of chronic disease.

Which medications are you taking? MedScape, GoodRx, and WebMD all have a slightly different list for the top 10 most prescribed medications but they do have many in common. The lists are pretty consistent with the medication lists I see in my patients. Understanding the potential deficiencies associated with the most common medications may help patients prevent the need for further medication. Nutrient deficiencies often present themselves as symptoms that get you another medication prescription, which in turn, causes another nutrient deficiency. Ugh!

Metformin, often prescribed due to the high prevalence of diabetes, can cause Coenzyme Q10, Vitamins B1 and B6, and Zinc deficiencies. There are multiple variations of the statin class of drugs that help lower cholesterol that can cause Coenzyme Q10 depletion. Antacids and/or ulcer medications can cause deficiencies in B12, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc. Antibiotics are well known to cause good bacteria depletion but they may also cause deficiencies in multiple B vitamins, Vitamin K, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause weakness, fatigue, chronic pan, and poor immune function. Other more serious side effects include cardiovascular and connective tissue problems, poor wound healing, osteoporosis, depression, birth defects, and many more.
What nutrient deficiencies could you have based on your medication list? The longer and more chronic the list, the more likely deficiencies are multiple and chronic as well. It’s a good idea to meet with a dietitian for a full medication review to determine vitamin and mineral supplement recommendations that will help you prevent deficiencies and their associated health complications.

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