Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion

[This information references the book, Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, by Ross Pelton, R.PH., PH.D; James B. LaValle, R.Ph., N.D.; and Ernest B. Hawkins, R.Ph., M.S. (Lexi-Comp, 2001]

This book alerts health professionals and consumers to the fact that approximately 1,000 commonly prescribed prescription drugs and many over-the-counter (OTC) medications deplete one or more nutrients in humans.

When the amount of nutrients in the body (e.g. vitamins and minerals) is depleted by drug action, a large number of unpleasant side effects are possible that are directly caused by a lack or out-of-balance condition of essential nutrients.

Commonly prescribed drugs that cause nutrient depletions include oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy medications, anti-convulsants, anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta blockers, phenothiazines, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines and antibiotics.

The knowledge that long-term use of many drugs leads to nutritional deficiencies of specific nutrients has been documented by a large number of studies done over the last three decades. Conclusively, these studies show that drugs deplete nutrients whether by interfering with absorption, or by inhibiting transport or metabolism. Yet this information is not generally communicated to the people taking these drugs.

Amphetamine and amphetamine-containing drugs are associated with the depletion of vitamin B1. Stimulant drugs for ADD and ADHD can deplete the amino acid carnitine.

Major tranquilizers deplete vitamin B-2, coenzyme Q-10, and melatonin.

Many antidepressants are associated with depletion of vitamin B2, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10.

SSRIs (Selective Seratonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) such as Prozac and Zoloft deplete vitamin C.

There are many more examples.

How Do Drugs Work?

Drugs are essentially poisons and have their own side effects in addition to those caused by nutrient depletion. The amount taken determines the effect.

A small amount acts as a stimulant. A greater amount acts as a sedative. An even larger amount poisons and can kill. This is true of any drug. Only the amount needed to achieve the effect differs.

But many drugs have another liability: they directly affect the mind. They can distort the user’s perception of what is happening around him or her. As a result, the person’s actions may be odd, irrational, inappropriate and even destructive.

Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. So, while providing short-term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking.

Medicines are drugs that are intended to speed up or slow down or change something about the way your body is working, to try to make it work better. Sometimes they are necessary. But they are still drugs: they act as stimulants or sedatives, and too much can kill you.

Abuse of prescription drugs has become a more serious problem than most street drugs. Painkillers, tranquilizers, antidepressants, sleeping pills and stimulants may appear “safe” due to being prescribed by doctors, but they can be just as addictive and potent as the heroin or cocaine sold on the street.

Depressants: These drugs, which slow down your brain and nervous system functions, include Xanax, Zyprexa, Amytal, Seconal, Valium and many others. Effects can include heart problems, weight gain, fatigue and slurred speech. Continued use can lead to addiction.

Stimulants: These drugs speed up your heart rate and breathing, similar to “speed” or cocaine. They include Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta and drugs known as “bennies.” Effects include increased blood pressure and heartbeat, hostility and paranoia. The stimulant drugs prescribed to children are so addictive they are referred to by experts as “kiddie cocaine” because of their many similarities to cocaine.

Antidepressants: Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Celexa are some of the commonly used antidepressants. Effects can include irregular heartbeat, paranoid reactions, violent or suicidal thoughts and hallucinations. Long-term use can lead to addiction.

Painkillers, depressants and antidepressants are responsible for more overdose deaths in the US than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamines combined.


Dr. LaValle, one of the authors of this book, has these additional things to say in one of his papers [“Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion,” Alternative Therapies, Mar/Apr 2006, Vol. 12 No. 2]:

“One of the potential challenges facing healthcare professionals today is the problem of drug-induced disease. With polypharmacy prescribing [prescribing multiple drugs at the same time] occurring in younger and younger populations, it is becoming increasingly important to assess nutrient depletion risks as they relate to future symptoms, conditions, or progression of disease.”

“Often, patients are displaying symptoms of a nutrient depletion, and rather than a nutrient being given, other drugs are being prescribed to mask metabolic problems that have been brought about by drug therapy.”

“Dysregulation of metabolic pathways should always be evaluated to see if nutrient depletion could be an underlying cause of common co-morbidities [the presence of one or more disorders or diseases in addition to a primary disease or disorder] such as restless legs, insomnia, low energy, and depression.”

If you are taking psychiatric drugs, do not stop taking them based on what you read here. You could suffer serious withdrawal symptoms. You should seek the advice and help of a competent medical doctor or health care practitioner before trying to come off any psychiatric drug. The information in this newsletter should not be construed as medical advice.

The real problem is that psychiatrists fraudulently diagnose life’s problems as an “illness”, and stigmatize unwanted behavior or study problems as “diseases.” Psychiatry’s stigmatizing labels, programs and treatments are harmful junk science; their diagnoses of “mental disorders” are a hoax – unscientific, fraudulent and harmful. All psychiatric treatments, not just psychiatric drugs, are dangerous.

“Given the nature and potentially devastating impact of psychotropic medications…we now similarly hold that the right to refuse to take psychotropic drugs is fundamental.” [Alaska Supreme Court, 2006]

Click here for more information about the side effects of psychiatric drugs.

Click here to download booklets specific to each different class of psychotropic drug.

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