Are Your Medications Causing Nutrient Depletions? (by Lucas Smith, Buena Vista Drug)

Medications can be very useful to help cure, control, and manage symptoms of diseases that affect a variety of people. The process of developing and using medications has changed over time. Many years ago, medications were often substances derived from plants and other items in our environment. These plants provided not only the molecules that created the medicinal effect but also provided other nutrients to the body. While some of our modern medications are still derived this way, in today’s health care, most medications are developed in a lab, to produce one single molecule, and undergo extensive drug trials to ensure they are safe and effective.

Medicines are designed to target a specific problem. However, because our bodies are large, complex organisms these medications often come with potential side effects. Many of these side effects are easy to recognize and can be resolved by talking to your healthcare provider. Certain medications have another side effect that can slowly build and cause noticeable effects several months or years after you have started a medication. These effects are often due to depletion of vital vitamins, minerals, and chemicals. By depleting these nutrients your body can not function properly and you begin to notice these effects. Nutrient depletion can happen in a variety of ways. Some medications can block your body from absorbing nutrients from you diet, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heart burn and reflux, which can block calcium and Vitamin B12 absorption. In other occasions medicines can interfere with natural processes needed to produce nutrients. An example of this is statin drugs, used to lower cholesterol, block the production of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 plays a major role in preserving the energy supplies of our cells. Finally, diuretic medications, used to remove fluid in your body and treat high blood pressure, can cause your body to excrete an excessive amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.

These depletions happen slowly, and you might not even notice they are happening to you. Therefore it is always important to consult with your doctor and pharmacist regularly so they can assess any new symptoms your body demonstrates during the course of your drug therapy.

Medications are useful and have a purpose to help you live healthier. The depletions discussed today can be easily fixed or avoided by simply adding these nutrients back into your diet through supplementation. Pharmacists have a large knowledge about medications and supplements, talking with a pharmacist who has studied these depletions intensely and understands the proper dosing to resolve these depletions or when to switch to a different medication is important. Fortunately, we have several pharmacists within Chaffee County who have gone through more training to help mitigate these depletions. The pharmacists at Buena Vista Drug and Salida Pharmacy & Fountain can talk with you and recommend what supplement you might need depending on what prescription medications you are taking.