6 Prescription Drugs That Can Lead To Nutritional Deficiencies

By | May 4, 2017

We have all taken prescription and over-the-counter drugs at some point in our lives to treat an infection, a psychological condition, or pain. These medications can provide lifesaving benefits, but are they doing more harm than actual good? In WellnessFX’s infographic, “6 Medications that Deplete Your Nutrients: How to Supplement + Foods to Help,” these six commonly used drugs can have serious side effects, such as nutrient depletion, affecting body functioning.


In the U.S., about seven in 10 Americans take prescription drugs with antibiotics, antidepressants, and painkiller opioids among the most common prescriptions given, according to the Mayo Clinic. Meanwhile, 20 percent of U.S. patients are on five or more prescription medications. These drugs contain several side effects, including depleting the body of certain nutrient levels from iron and zinc, to selenium and magnesium.

These nutrient depletions occur because some medications block the absorption, storage, metabolism, or synthesis of important nutrients in the body. When these nutrients are blocked or depleted for a long period of time, health problems can develop secondary as a result of those depletions. Nutrients such as vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc are among the most common deficiencies in the U.S. population. Each of these nutrients has an important role in maintaining and protecting health.



For example, antibiotics are commonly used to fight bacterial infections, like certain fungal infections and some kinds of parasites, including bladder infections, sinus and ear infections, and strep throat. Antibiotics can eliminate bad bacteria, but they can also deplete good gut bacteria, resulting in digestion problems, including diarrhea, bloating and gas, as well as yeast infections and colitis. This can be aided with lacto fermented dairy like yogurt and kefir, cultured vegetables like sauerkraut and probiotics.

Taking certain probiotics at least two hours before or after antibiotics can help with antibiotic side effects. Antacids like Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, and Rolaids are widely used to help settle an uneasy stomach. They act by neutralizing the acid pH of the stomach. This reduction in stomach acid decreases the absorption of iron, as well as folic acid and zinc. The consumption of iron-rich foods, such as spinach, cooked beans, fried fruit like prunes, raisins, and apricots along with the consumption of beef and chicken liver, oysters, mussels, and clams are also high in iron.


However, too much iron can be toxic. Take a look at the other drug-induced nutrient depletions in the infographic below and how to supplement with foods.

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