Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

When you take a drug, it can relieve your symptoms, but it might cause your body to lose nutrients. Learn about commonly used drugs that can deplete nutrients, including statins, acid reducers, antibiotics, NSAIDs and diuretics.

Drugs & Nutrients

Have you ever noticed that in order to get some things, other things need to be sacrificed? It's kind of like getting hired for the early morning shift at a factory. You might get a great paycheck, but you have to sacrifice sleeping in. Something similar happens when you take certain medications. Some medications cause nutrients to be depleted in your body. Drugs can alter the way a nutrient is absorbed, made, stored or metabolized. So, by taking the drug, you can get relief for your symptoms, but you may be sacrificing certain nutrients. In this lesson, we will look at some of the common drug-induced nutrient depletions.


Statins are popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, but people taking them need to be aware of the fact that they can deplete coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a compound that helps with energy production. It is found in every cell of your body, with high concentrations found in the heart and other organs. When the substance is depleted, it can lead to heart problems and low energy. If you would like to boost your intake of coenzyme Q10, you can eat more organ meats and beef, which are naturally high in the substance, or take a dietary supplement.

Acid Reducers

Acid reducers are common medications taken for the relief of heartburn and indigestion. Taking these types of medication on a regular basis will lower the acids in your digestive tract that are giving you discomfort, but they will also lower your body's supply of important nutrients, including calcium and vitamin B12. Calcium is needed for bone health and vitamin B12 helps with nerve cells, so depleting these nutrients can lead to weak bones and nerve damage. Some acid reducers can be bought over-the-counter, so if you find yourself taking them regularly, you might want to talk with your doctor about increasing your dairy intake to get more calcium or how to safely eat more animal products, which provide vitamin B12.


A common antibiotic medication
Common antibiotic medication

Antibiotics are often needed to fight bacterial infections, but extended use of antibiotics can deplete different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K. You might find it helpful to refer to vitamin K as 'Vitamin Klot' because it plays a role in blood clotting. If your body is low on vitamin K, you might have trouble with excess bleeding. Vitamin K is found in plant foods, like leafy green vegetables. It is also made by good bacteria that naturally live in your intestines. When you take an antibiotic, it attacks all of the bacteria in your body. It can't tell the difference between the bad bacteria that are causing the infection and the good bacteria that are making vitamin K. When good bacteria are killed by antibiotics the result is lower levels of vitamin K.


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used drugs that are taken for the treatment of pain and inflammation. NSAIDs are either prescribed or bought over-the-counter to help with many conditions, such as arthritis, lower back pain and headaches. However, these useful drugs can deplete folic acid, which is a B vitamin that is best known for its ability to protect against birth defects. Low levels of folic acid in a pregnant woman can result in her child being born with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. In other individuals, a low level of folic acid can lead to anemia, fatigue and heart disease. You can get extra folic acid from a dietary supplement, and the nutrient is often added to cereals and orange juice.

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