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Take These With Your Prescriptions

Source: Heart, Health & Nutrition, March 2008

I’ve listed some of the most commonly prescribed medications (and a few over-the-counter ones, too) and how they affect the body. If you’re taking any of them, be sure that you’re also supplementing with the appropriate nutrients. The amount of supplement you’ll need will depend on your overall health and your medication dosage, but, in many cases, you’ll be off to a good start if you’re taking a high-quality daily multinutrient.

  • Aspirin and ibuprofen deplete vitamin C, folic acid, and iron.
  • Statin drugs deplete coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), I’ve written about this connection many times: CoQ10 is also diminished by beta blockers, oral hypoglycemic drugs, and older antidepressants (such as Tofranil and Elavil).
  • Birth control pills deplete folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B6, B12, B2, and C. According to a new Belgium study, for every decade of use there is an increased 20 to 30 percent rick of atheroclerosis. These drugs obviously affect nutrients that are essential for arterial health.
  • Oral and inhaled corticosteroids deplete potassium, calcium, folic acid, and vitamins C and D.
  • Acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors (Nexium, Tagamet, Pepcid, et cetera) deplete vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc and calcium.
  • Coumadin depletes vitamin K. This blood thinner descreases the activity of vitamin K in the body, which is a raw material used in the clotting process. Recent research, in both animal and human studies, has raised troubling associations with long-term Coumadin use, including accelerated tissue calcification-which is a result of the drug’s interference with enzyme dependent on vitamin K. Limited research with humans has identified a calcification-Coumadin association in cardiac valves, as well as in kidney and long tissue, and in peripheral vessels. However, I don’t recommend K2 supplementation for people taking Coumadin because the two substances may interact. Additionally, patients taking Coumadin should not stop taking it since the risk of forming clots is too great.
  • Antibiotics deplete probiotics (the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract). While not exactly nutrients, probiotics are involved in the production of vitamin K and B-complex vitamins, as well as the absorption of minerals-especially calcium. To read about additional drugs and the nutrients they deplete, visit

My advice to you is to make sure you truly need any medication you take and fully understand how the drug works and what nutrients it may be affecting. Then supplement appropriately to protect your health.

Rietzschel E, Et al. Anticonceptive drug use and increased carotid and femoral plaque prevalence. American Heart Association Conference 2007; Abstract 3614.
Schurgers, L.J., et al. Post-translational modifications regulate matrix GLA protein function; Importance for inhibition of vascular smooth muscle calcification. J Thromb Haemost. 2007;5(12):2503-2511.
Whittaker P, Donavan JL, Przyklenk K. Long-term warfarin therapy is associated with tissue calcification. J Thromb Thrombolysis, 2008:25(1):125.