When Good Medicines Do Bad Things
You have a nasty stomach virus so you turn to an antibiotic to get rid of it, but did you know you could be getting rid of a lot more than the germs attacking your system? These medicines may also be robbing your body of vital nutrients! You are not alone, nearly 50 percent of all American adults regularly take at least one prescription drug, and 20 percent take three or more. This may be one reason we struggle to stay healthy.
What is Nutrient Depletion?
The dictionary definition of nutrient depletion/deficiency is “an inadequate supply of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, in the diet resulting in malnutrition or disease.” Medications can rob your body of nutrients in one of three ways:
- Absorption: Medicines can change the way the body absorbs nutrients if it changes the “environment” of your intestines. For example, nutrients that require an acidic gut environment can be depleted if that environment changes due to drug therapy.
- Excretion: If a medication causes you to lose excess fluid, water-soluble vitamins such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and folate are at risk of depletion.
- Metabolism: Some medicines actually change the way the body metabolizes certain nutrients. For example, statin drugs block the pathway for coenzyme Q10.
When your body doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to function, you can expect at least one of the following:
- Weakened immune system
- Increased susceptibility to infection
Should I Worry About Taking My Medicines?
If you are taking a medication for an acute illness – think the stomach virus mentioned above – nutrient depletion is rare. However, if you are on antihypertensives, beta blockers, cholesterol-lowering drugs, acid blockers, oral hypoglycemic, psychotropic medications, or hormone replacement therapy you are at a higher risk for nutrient insufficiencies. You can also check out this chart listing specific medications and the nutrient it impacts.
That’s Me! Now What?
Use a multivitamin that can replace what you are losing from taking medication. Even if you do not take regular medication but feel you are always run down or getting sick consider a full body cleanse to help reset the body and allow you to feel better.