As patients, we all strive to do what is best for our bodies. We eat well, exercise, and take any necessary medications when needed. However, what is not well known is that sometimes the medications we take can cause a depletion of important nutrients.
Don’t get me wrong, prescription medications are a necessity for many people and I am not in any way advising you to NOT take your prescribed medications. I simply would like to educate you on the nutrients you will need additional intake of, when taking certain medications.
Since there are a lot of medications that can cause nutrient depletion, I am going to break them up into a two-part series and only tell you about a couple of drugs at a time. This month I would like to address Antacids and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs).
This category includes medications such as Pepcid, Tagamet, Prevacid, Prilosec, and magnesium & aluminum containing antacids (such as Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta).
Antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid or by inhibiting the release of a digestive enzyme (like pepcin). Unfortunately stomach acid is necessary to release vitamins from food, and when you decrease or stop the production of it, you absorb fewer vitamins.
These medications can cause deficiencies in the following nutrients:
Most common of these is deficiencies is B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia, depression, tiredness, and weakness. The good news is that Vitamin B12 is easy to supplement. When choosing a B12 supplement, you want to look exclusively for the methylated form…Methylcobalamin. Dosages range from 1 to 5mgs and it can be taken twice daily if needed. I recommend taking it in the morning and around noon. Vitamin B12 provides energy, so never take it too close to bedtime. Vitamin B12 is also “water soluble” meaning that you cannot overdose on it since the body automatically eliminates any excess through urine.
Talk to your doctor about the proper dosing for you when supplementing for Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. You can take too much of it, so be sure to have your blood tested to keep your levels in check.
This group includes medications such as Motrin, Aleve, Advil, Anaprox, Dolobid, Feldene, and Naprosyn.
These are all known to cause folic acid deficiency due to a decrease in the body’s ability to absorb folate from the intestine.
Folic acid deficiency can cause birth defects, anemia, and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Also in this group is aspirin and other salicylates.
Long term use of aspirin is linked to deficiency in the following nutrients:
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Aspirin can cause the body to expel more Vitamin C in urine than normal and Vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune response. Calcium is necessary for bone, heart & dental health. Iron prevents anemia, weakness, fatigue, hair loss, and brittle nails. Vitamin B5 helps with fatigue and listlessness.
Most of these nutrients are available in a high-quality multivitamin, however if you are on an aspirin therapy regimen, I recommend talking to your doctor about dosage to replenish these nutrients.
Next month we will talk about some additional medications that can cause nutrient depletion. If you currently take any of these medications and want to know if you are nutrient deficient, we offer testing in our office through a company called Spectracell. You call any of our offices to request Spectracell testing. Until then I wish you continued good health.
Dr. Melissa Miskell