Medications: Side Effects and
Nutritional Deficiencies

The average person in North America is on about six different prescription medications by age 65. Each of these medications is designed to complete a specific body function that does not work or that no longer works as well as it needs to for health. These body functions require specific nutrients as fuel.

Here’s what we know about medications:

Medications create side effects
These side effects can deflate or even exhaust the nutrients needed for complete functioning.
Medications create nutrient deficiencies
These nutrient deficiencies are seen as signs and symptoms for which more medications are often prescribed. Doesn’t it make sense to get the nutrients and nurturing you need to stop this cycle?
Below are some common medications and the nutrients needed to keep them from creating deficiencies and side effects.

Cholesterol drugs (Statins)
People make hormones from cholesterol. When the enzyme that facilitates this conversion begins to fail, hormone levels go down and cholesterol goes up. Given the relationship between cholesterol and heart health, many people choose to take statin medications to reduce their cholesterol numbers. Taking statins, however, has only a slight effect on reducing heart attack frequency because fully half of the people having heart attacks have normal levels of cholesterol.

Statins deplete Co-Enzyme Q-10 and accessory nutrients. If you take statins, you definitely need to take CoQ-10 to balance CoQ-10 levels. People taking statins also benefit from heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and the B-vitamin niacin. Take pure niacin in low doses and always consult a health care provider when combining niacin with statins.

Stomach acid blockers (Proton pump inhibitors – PPI)
People take antacids called PPI to reduce stomach acid. These medications block the pumps that create acid. Hydrochloric acid is supposed to bind with pepsinogen to create the digestive enzyme pepsin. Pepsinogen production is impaired by stress.

Not chewing well enough, eating too quickly and eating greasy or unhealthy foods will cause indigestion. Mostly though, stress causes indigestion. As we age we become more susceptible to stress and much less resilient. Our stomach produces less pepsin as a response to stress, and an excess of hydrochloric acid remains.

If you take PPI antacids you definitely need to take Vitamin B-12 as studies have shown that PPIs can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb B-12. You should also consider taking Folic Acid and the mineral zinc. Women of childbearing age should also take iron. These critical nutrients are building blocks for health. Depleting these nutrients will result in a number of adverse side effects. No wonder B-12 deficiency depression is listed as a major concern with PPI medications!

Antidepressants (Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors – SSRI)
Antidepressant drugs are among the most widely prescribed medications in history. They are not just used for severe Depression; they may also be prescribed for everything from PMS to injuries. They are used for headaches, muscle pain and sinus allergies. Medical science is really just beginning to understand what these medications do inside the human body. Regardless of why a person takes an SSRI, they need to take certain nutrients.

Vitamin B-12 is part of a family of nutrients that helps combat the effects of SSRI. Folic Acid, Vitamin B-6 and Biotin are major members of this family of nutrients. Also, amino acids such as methionine and S, adneosyl methionine (SAMe) complete the process of Vitamin B-12 metabolism. You definitely need these nutrients if you take an SSRI. If you are over 50 or have poor circulation, ginkgo biloba can also help the medications work better. However, these nutrients (including ginkgo) will not reverse the sexual side effects of the drug.

The long-term benefits of SSRI medications are very much in doubt. However, two forms of “therapy” are rated as much more successful concerning long-term benefit: exercise and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Frequent, vigorous exercise improves the chemical balance of the brain and nervous system. CBT is a form of active listening that facilitates life changes based on what works best for each individual.


Take Control of Your Health

As always, the 10 Essentials for Health and Wellness are time-tested keys to well-being and have no side effects except improved wellness!

Breathe deeply
Drink water
Sleep peacefully
Eat nutritiously
Enjoy activity
Give and receive love
Be forgiving
Practice gratitude
Develop acceptance
Develop a relationship with God


Take your nutrients; if you are taking medications, take more nutrients!