Minimising Nutrient Depletion from Medications

Are you taking pharmaceutical medications (including over-the-counter products such as paracetamol or aspirin)?

Are you aware that many medications deplete certain nutrients your body needs? And this is if you are getting enough of them in your food/absorbing them well enough to begin with.

For instance, the oral contraceptive pill has been associated with widespread nutritional depletion of vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, E & folate, as well as the crucial minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc. A low level of these nutrients can mean you feel more stressed and anxious,  experience frequent colds/flus/recurrent urinary tract infections, and your thyroid (the gland in your neck that controls your metabolism) may not function as well as it should.

Statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) have been shown to reduce the levels of omega-3 fatty acids and co-enzyme Q10 in the body. Co-enzyme Q10 is involved in energy production, and somewhat ironically (considering the whole point of taking a cholesterol-lowering drug is to prevent a heart attack), CoQ10 has been shown to help protect the heart and blood vessels as well as improve blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health, and play a role in reducing pain/inflammation and supporting healthy moods.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s), which are commonly taken to reduce acid reflux symptoms have been shown to upset the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your digestive system. They have also been associated with vitamin & mineral deficiencies, as well as increased risk of fractures (they reduce calcium & vitamin D levels – both are necessary for healthy bones).

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) such as aspirin are used by many people on a daily basis, but they are well-known to cause damage to the stomach – including gastro-intestinal bleeding and ulcers.

And of course, antibiotics, which are designed to kill off bacteria in the body, end up stripping your digestive tract of bacteria that are beneficial to your overall health. Current scientific research is only just starting to recognise the importance of keeping a healthy gut flora (the ‘microbiome’) – something that naturopaths have known for years.

I’m not saying that these drugs are not necessary in certain circumstances, and I never recommend patients discontinue medications without discussing with their doctor, however it pays to remember that you may not be aware of just how these drugs are impacting your individual nutritional status.

This is an area where seeing a qualified natural health practitioner can help – I always look at your individual requirements, and can safely prescribe effective natural support alongside your medications. There are plenty of strategies we can use to help minimise any side effects from medications, as well as enhance your long-term health and well-being.


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