How Prescription Medicines May Negatively Impact Your Health
January 14, 2020
Are you taking prescription medicines for your health and feel worse since starting them? Are you interested in making sure that you don’t get preventable side effects from these medicines? While side effects may occur due to the body processing the synthetic nature of all prescription medicines, many also occur because those medicines may block the absorption, production, or simply deplete your vitamin and mineral levels. Additionally, some medicines may cause dangerous abnormalities in electrolytes like potassium and sodium. A few common examples would be cholesterol medicines and COQ10, beta-blockers and melatonin, Metformin blocking B-12 absorption, and anti-depressants which can affect folic acid, vitamin C and iron. Some common side effects of this nutritional depletion are fatigue, muscle cramps, cardiac arrhythmias, and sleeping disorders.
Over the 15 years, I have worked in Urgent Care, I have watched as the number of medicines a typical patient takes has increased year over year. As the number of medicines, a patient takes increases, those patients often come in more often for seemingly new and unrelated issues. However, those new issues are often driven in part by the nutritional deficiencies caused by their growing number of medicines. According to HuffPost, the average adult is filling 15 prescriptions a year. Additionally, 25% of all seniors are on 10-19 mediations per day. At some point, the interactions of these medicines with each other and our bodies’ natural processes will likely impact our ability to function optimally and need to be addressed.
One of the more common symptoms patients raise with me, not only in my clinic but also in social gatherings, is general fatigue. Sometimes it is due to poor sleep, poor diet, and stress. However, before you write that off as the cause, let’s visit the basics of our health. Everyone who went to high school learned how our bodies produce energy. While I won’t bore you with a detailed overview of the citric acid cycle (Kreb’s cycle) or any of the other chemical reactions (millions per second) that our bodies rely on to function, I will share with you the abridged version. The Kreb’s cycle is the cycle that makes energy to power your body and it requires numerous vitamins and minerals to work. In a perfect world, we would obtain these is through proper nutrition and sunlight. However, even if your diet was perfect and even if the food we ate actually had the nutritional value it used to, you still may have a problem because of the prescription medicines you are taking. This is why supplementation is especially important and why knowing which drugs may cause what deficiencies will help you select the most appropriate supplementation program. Otherwise, you may end up with a new symptom and a new medicine.
So how do you know what you may need? Vitamin testing is one option and most functional medicine doctors do testing to show you in specific what you may be deficient in. I perform this type of testing in my practice so I can be specific on supplement recommendations. However, even without testing, you should be aware of what your specific medicines may be affecting so that you can have an informed conversation with your doctor about supplementing those nutrients that may likely be deficient because of their documented effect on them. The chart below may be helpful as a starting point in evaluating your medicine to see if you are at risk, but I also encourage you to do additional research and speak to your doctor to be thorough.
If you would like to access our nutrient deficiency chart, please provide an email where we can send it to you in the form below.