Drugs That Deplete

Are the meds you’re taking interfering with your body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals? Find out which common drugs are draining you of your nutrients and what you can do to offset them.

Many medications deplete essential nutrients or interfere with their absorption, especially if their use is prolonged. Dr. Craig McLachlan, senior pharmacology lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, helped to compile this guide. Caution: remember to talk to your doctor before you change habits.

Medication: Antibiotics, such as penicillin, amoxicillin.
Nutrient Depletions: Can destroy both the good and bad bacteria in the stomach, which influences digestion (eg. inducing diarrhea).
Supplement/Outcome: Consider taking probiotics to help restore the balance.

Medication: Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Nutrient Depletions: Can decrease the amount of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)—an important antioxidant that aids in the production of energy.
Supplement/Outcome: There’s little evidence that CoQ10 supplements can help patients on statins.

Medication: Diuretics, such as meds for heart failure, high blood pressure (eg. amiloride, triamterene, bumetanide).
Nutrient Depletions: Diuretics rid the body of excess fluid, which can lower blood pressure. This process can lead to the depletion of potassium, which can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
Supplement/Outcome: Taking potassium supplements can be helpful. Eating potassium-rich bananas is a natural alternative.

Medication: Anticonvulsants (eg. phenytoin).
Nutrient Depletions: Can cause vitamin D deficiency in epilepsy patients under antiepileptic drug treatment.
Supplement/Outcome: Consider taking vitamin D and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Medication: Acid reflux medication (eg. proton pump inhibitors, esomeprazole).
Nutrient Depletions: A short course of acid reflux medication can reduce the level of vitamin C plasma in some people.
Supplement/Outcome: Take vitamin C prior to the course of medication—you won’t be able to get enough via dietary intake.

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as acetylsalicylic acid and ibuprofen.
Nutrient Depletions: Some NSAIDs can cause calcium loss through the urine and can interfere with nutrient metabolism.
Supplement/Outcome: Check your vitamin D levels with your doctor as it helps improve your calcium absorption. Take calcium supplements if needed.