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Avoiding nutrient deficiencies on prescription medications

Our bodies require sufficient vitamins and minerals to function properly — these micronutrients support healthy cell growth, immunity, and metabolism. In theory, we should get all of the necessary nutrients from our diet. However, most North Americans do not eat a balanced diet and despite advances in agricultural technology, the nutritional quality of our food is diminishing. Further, certain prescription medications can exacerbate certain nutrient deficiencies.

Prescription medications are a valuable tool for a multitude of conditions and illnesses. For some people, they’re an important and essential part of maintaining health. However, it’s important to be aware of possible nutrient deficiencies as a result of certain medications and to replete them as appropriate.

Potential symptoms of nutrient deficiencies

Potential symptoms of nutrient deficiencies include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Poor sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry, brittle hair and nails
  • Dandruff and hair loss
  • Pale skin, dry eyes and dark eye circles
  • Poor digestion — diarrhea, constipation, bloating
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Irritability, brain fog

If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to review the medications you’re taking with a healthcare practitioner.

So, which drugs deplete nutrients?

Common prescription medications that can lead to potential nutrient deficiencies:

  • Antacids. Often prescribed for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, antacids can be temporarily helpful for reducing heartburn by decreasing stomach acid production. Research shows that long-term use of antacids deplete key vitamins like B12 and magnesium.
  • Antibiotics. These can disrupt the gut flora, killing off “good” bacteria that are needed to properly absorb nutrients.
  • Antidepressants. Prescribed to help with mood disorders, these medications can cause changes to your appetite and have been associated with folic acid depletion.
  • Blood Pressure Medications. Beta blockers can disrupt the biological pathway of coenzyme Q10, which is essential for cellular processes. Diuretics, which increase urination, decrease potassium, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Diabetes Medications. Commonly associated with B12 deficiency.
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs. Often categorized as statins, these medications work by inhibiting an enzyme involved in the liver’s cholesterol production process and can lead to Coenzyme Q10 deficiency.

How to prevent nutrient deficiencies

  1. Balanced Diet – First and foremost, focus on eating a healthy and balanced diet. Ensuring that you are getting enough nutrients through food is important for preventing any nutrient deficiencies.
  2. Healthy gut – Proper nutrient absorption begins in the gut. It’s not only what you eat, but how well your body can digest and eliminate food. If you experience frequent symptoms such as gas, bloating, reflux and/or abdominal pain you may benefit from meeting with a healthcare provider to assess the overall health of your digestive system.
  3. Supplement – If needed, taking targeted supplements for your specific health needs and goals can be helpful. It is important to work with your healthcare provider to determine if supplementation is necessary and dosage.

Addressing the root cause

As integrative health practitioners, we strive to find the root cause of our patients’ imbalances to get them back to their best state of health in the most natural way. Eating a balanced diet, focusing on a healthy gut, and supplementing if needed under the guidance of a licensed medical provider will help ensure you feel your best!

Dr. Alyssa Burnham is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) that specializes in Integrative Women’s Health across the lifespan. She offers naturopathic medicine services virtually at Wise Woman Wellness LLC, an innovative wellness and hormone center, at 1480 Swan Road in De Pere, WI. Dr. Burnham earned her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR and completed her residency at the University of California-Irvine Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute. Her special interests include gut health, PCOS, menstrual disorders and autoimmune disease. She offers women the best of conventional and holistic, naturopathic therapies including functional medicine testing, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, mind–body techniques, and nutraceuticals. Her approach to health is to identify the root cause and treat with the least invasive therapies. Schedule a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call with her at or call 920-339-5252 to schedule your initial visit!

Sources: Drake, V (2020), Ph.D.Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University Retrieved from

Cass, H. (2019, May 22). A practical guide to avoiding drug-induced nutrient depletion. Nutrition Review. Retrieved from

Mathieu, L. (2018, January 22). Drug-induced nutrient depletion: The warnings not listed on your RX label. Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness – Compounding Pharmacy and Vitamins and Supplements Store in Portland, Maine. Retrieved from

Mohn, E. S., Kern, H. J., Saltzman, E., Mitmesser, S. H., & McKay, D. L. (2018, March 20). Evidence of drug-nutrient interactions with chronic use of commonly prescribed medications: An update. Pharmaceutics. Retrieved from

Morea, J. (2017, February 10). 6 ways to boost your nutrient absorption by improving your gut health. Medium. Retrieved from

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