By Carol Crenna
If you’re taking any type of medication, whether it’s a pain reliever for headaches or oral birth control, you probably are.
DID YOU KNOW?…
If you take aspirin regularly it depletes your body of vitamin C, zinc and folic acid?
Did you know that if you’re using Paxil you shouldn’t be eating turkey or other foods containing tryptophan?
Did you know that oral contraception pills such as Allese and Climara can cause deficiencies in folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin C?
Did you know that when you use Viagra, common herbs including devil’s claw and fenugreek may increase its negative heart-related side effects?
BEFORE YOU SWALLOW THAT PILL…
Be sure that you’re aware of all health risks that you’re exposing yourself to. You may have heard reports about dangerous drug-herbal cocktail combinations, but little has been said about pharmaceuticals that leach vital nutrients from your body.
IF DRUGS WORK, THAT MEANS THEY CAUSE A CHANGE IN YOUR BODY– WHICH CAN BE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE.
We’re only beginning to understand the powerful effect of drugs and their relationship to our bodies, which go far beyond what their applications were made for. The fact is that all prescription drugs have unintended side effects which may disrupt your body’s delicate balance.
Most people aren’t aware of drug-induced vitamin and mineral deficiencies because doctors don’t know about them or don’t tell patients about them. So you continue taking medicine – even over-the-counter brands – without knowing that it may be leaving your body malnourished. Used regularly, these deficiencies may even lead to immune system illnesses and chronic disease.
LOOK IT UP.
There are a few free online information sources for drug-related nutritional deficiencies caused by medications. One offers information for over 540 brand-name prescription drugs. It’s called News Target Drug Watch, http://www.NewsTarget.com/DrugWatch_Home.html. Though it gives scientific references for each of its claims (with data from http://www.appliedhealth.com), the non-profit organization’s website states that it doesn’t represent a comprehensive list of considerations.
HERE’S A SAMPLING OF WHAT IT OFFERS:
Many of us have occasionally grabbed a Motrin or Advil for pain relief, which are brands of ibuprofen. But ibuprofen may make it difficult for your body to absorb folic acid, an important vitamin for women. There is an increased risk of internal bleeding if you take vitamin E supplements along with it (the same applies to ginkgo biloba). Long term use of ibuprofen can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract and lead to iron loss.
TAKE A TYLENOL?
If you take Tylenol or other acetaminophen, eating broccoli or Brussels sprouts (cruciferous veggies) or high-carb foods can interfere with the drug’s absorption so it doesn’t work as well. If you take acetaminophen, don’t do a cleansing fast at the same time since it greatly increases the chance of liver damage (acetaminophen is toxic to the liver, and puts stress on kidneys). Vitamin C supplements affect the function of this drug, too.
If you take Premarin to relieve menopausal symptoms, it may affect your body’s ability to absorb B6, B12, folic acid, magnesium and zinc. And if you take high doses of vitamin C, you may increase the estrogen effects of the hormonal drug. Avoid caffeine – tea, cola, guarana, herbe mate – and herbs that may affect hormone levels like black cohosh, dong quai and saw palmetto when taking Premarin.
Have to you taken antibiotics? You know that they indiscrepantly kill both good and bad bacteria so you should take probiotic supplements to rebalance your intestinal environment. But you should also be aware that common antibiotics including Ampicillin and Amoxicillin may make it difficult for your body to produce important B vitamins and vitamin K.
Do you have low thyroid function? If you take an iron supplement, it might reduce the absorption and therefore the effectiveness of Synthroid, the hypothyroidism drug. The same goes for eating soy, so wait a few hours before eating it after taking the medication. You should also avoid calcium and magnesium supplements within several hours of taking it.
Does your facial product use retin-A? Since retin-A is a derivative of vitamin A, do not also supplement with vitamin A or beta carotene. And if you use creams containing herbs along with retin-A such as evening primrose oil, nettle, rose hips, comfrey and St. John’s wort, it may harm the skin.
Tamoxifen, a chemotherapy drug for cancer, may cause deficiencies in beta-carotene and CoQ-10, and also cause calcium levels in the blood to increase, which can be harmful. Herbs with hormonal properties including black cohosh and dong quai should be avoided.
READ THE FINE PRINT
Don’t just take this website’s word for it; do your own research and seek out other references, too. That includes reading all of the literature that you’re given by the pharmacist or doctor with the medication. Tell your doctor about other supplements that you’re taking before beginning a new medication.
Be proactive; it’s up to you to ask about nutritional side effects.
This article by Carol Crenna originally appeared in Vista Magazine.