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Nutrients That May Be Depleted By Drugs

Updated: May 25, 2023

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Medicine, pharmaceuticals, drugs. Whatever you call them, medications have become a fact of life. There's not many of us that can say that we've never taken any type of prescription medicine.

While medications are sometimes necessary and help to alleviate symptoms, taking pharmaceuticals for a long time may cause or contribute to nutrient depletions.

Some of the most common prescriptions medications that may cause nutrient depletions include antibiotics, blood pressure medications, and certain over-the-counter drugs.

Nutrients that may be depleted by Drugs

Unfortunately, there are many nutrient-drug interactions and all of them have not yet been uncovered or cateloged as of the time of this writing. In fact, with the invention of new drugs and the discovery of new supplement forms for common nutrients like the B vitamins, we may never know the extent of all nutrient-drug interactions.

Below is a list of the most common nutrients that may be depleted by drugs.

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With the CDC admitted that antibiotics are overprescribed, there's a huge chance that you or a loved one may have taken a round or two of antibiotics in the past. You've maybe even taken antibiotics unnecessarily.

Now I have absolutely nothing against antibiotics taken when they are needed but when there is an overuse of antibiotics, then a whole host of health problems can arise ranging from harmful changes in the gut microbiome [1] to mental confusion and delirium[2].

That's not the only negative impact antibiotic use may inflict on the body. Certain antibiotics have been linked with nutrient deficiencies. This means that the antibiotic itself has been shown to cause a loss of this nutrient or reduce the absorption of the nutrient in the body.

Here is a quick guide to some nutrient deficiencies linked to antibiotics:

Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Keflex Nutrient Depletions

Antibiotics like amoxicillin work by stopping bacteria from growing by damaging bacterial cell wall creation. Some nutrient deficiencies associated with amoxicillin and similar antibiotics include:

  1. B vitamins

  2. Vitamin K

  3. Vitamin C

Tetracycline Antibiotics like Doxycycline & Minocycline

Tetracycline antibiotics work by preventing the growth and spread of bacteria. Nutrients depletions caused by tetracycline antibiotics include:

  1. Calcium

  2. Magnesium

  3. Iron

  4. Zinc

  5. Vitamins B6 and B12


Neomycin works by stopping bacterial proteins from being made which leads to bacterial death. Here are some of the most common nutrients depletions.

  1. Beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor)

  2. Calcium

  3. Magnesium

  4. Iron

  5. Potassium

  6. Vitamins A and B12

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Blood Pressure Medications

Antibiotics aren't the only medications that are associated with nutrient depletions. Common blood pressure medicines may also cause a diminishing absorption of certain nutrients.

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers work by stopping calcium from entering the cells of the heart. This stops the heart from squeezing harder which causes the blood pressure to increase.

  1. Vitamin D

Thiazide Diuretics

Thiazide diuretics work by blocking sodium and chloride channels in the kidney which helps to reduce blood pressure.

  1. Magnesium

  2. Phosphorus

  3. Sodium

  4. Zinc

  5. Potassium

  6. CoQ10

ACE Inhibitors

Ace Inhibitors are blood pressure regulating medications that work by preventing the enzyme, angiotensin converting enzyme, into angiotension II. Angiotensin II causes blood vessels to constrict, or become narrower, which causes the heart to pump harder increasing blood pressure. Some nutrient depletions associated with ACE Inhibitors include:

  1. Zinc

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Over-the-counter drugs

Many would be surprised to find that common over-the-counter drugs may be linked to nutrient depletions. Given the ubiquitous nature and easy convenience of OTC medications, knowing the possible nutrient depletions linked to these medicines can be beneficial. Some of the most common OTCs linked to nutrient depletions include aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), ulcer medication, and certain laxatives.


Aspirin is antipyretic (anti fever) and anti pain medication. Aspirin works by blocking prostagladins which create fever and pain. Nutrient depletions linked with aspirin include:

  1. Vitamin C

  2. Folate

  3. Iron

  4. Potassium


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are drugs that work by blocking certain enzymes that help create the sensation of pain in the body. While NSAIDS have been linked to other issues like heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage in the older populations[3], they have been linked to nutrient deficiencies like:

  1. Folate


Laxatives have different ways of working on the body. Some increase the water content on the colon to help create a bowel movement while others bulk up stool making it easier to pass through the colon to be eliminated. Certain laxatives like mineral oil laxatives and bisacodyl or Dulcolax can contribute to nutrient depletions like:

  1. Vitamins A, D, E, K

  2. Beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor)

  3. Potassium

How to Address Nutrient Depletions

Maybe you've been taking some of these medications for a long time and you're worried that you may have one or more of these nutrient deficiencies. If so, there are some steps that you can take.

Get Tested

If you're having symptoms of common nutrient deficiencies, then contact your local naturopathic doctor or primary healthcare provider, to get tested for nutrient deficiencies. Certain healthcare providers may not be aware of specialized lab testing for nutrient deficiencies like SpectraCell Labs

Eat a Well Rounded Diet

Eating a diet filled with all of the available nutrients can help address nutrient depletions and even correct imbalances if the deficiency isn't severe. Whole organic and unprocessed foods are your best bet in getting the nutrients you need.

Address Gut Issues

Many times nutrient depletions linked to drugs also arise from issues with the gut. The biggest issues include leaky gut, food intolerances and allergies, chronic gut dysbiosis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

While drugs can help improve symptoms and bring about a better quality of life, there are risks associated with taking medications like contributing to nutrient deficiencies. Addressing these nutrient deficiencies can help you get on the road to wellness.

Candace Mathers, Dr. Candace Mathers, naturopathic doctor near me, naturopathic doctor, natural medicine, functional medicine

I'm Dr. Candace Mathers, boy mom, girl mom, Down syndrome mom and naturopathic doctor. Life Blossom Wellness will be releasing a NEW self paced online course all about homeopathy for kids! Homeopathy can be a gentle effective treatment for many conditions, especially those that are hard to manage with conventional approaches,

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  1. Patangia DV, Anthony Ryan C, Dempsey E, Paul Ross R, Stanton C. Impact of antibiotics on the human microbiome and consequences for host health. Microbiologyopen. 2022;11(1):e1260. doi:10.1002/mbo3.1260

  2. Common Antibiotics May be Linked to Temporary Mental Confusion.

  3. Davis A, Robson J. The dangers of NSAIDs: look both ways. Br J Gen Pract. 2016;66(645):172-173. doi:10.3399/bjgp16X684433

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