All Articles Healthcare Avoiding Nutrient Depletion From Common Medications


Avoiding Nutrient Depletion From Common Medications

Avoiding nutrient depletions with common medications

3 min read


Family physician


This post is sponsored by Nature Made® .

Nutrient depletion from medications is a serious and growing problem in the US. Many Americans are on prescription medications, and several of the most common medications are associated with nutrient losses. SmartBrief spoke with Pharmavite VP of Science and Technology, Susan Hazels Mitmesser, Ph.D., on why it’s important to be aware of these depletions and how family physicians can help.

Susan Hazels Mitmesser, Ph.D.

How many people are on medications today and what are the implications for possible nutrient deficiency?

Fifty-five percent of Americans take a prescription medication regularly.1 Those on prescription drugs are taking four medications on average, and many are taking OTC products. There is a high probability of nutrient losses or nutrient depletions with some common medications2, as well as the potential for interactions with other medications and/or dietary supplements.3

Why is nutrient depletion from medications such a serious concern?

Currently, the US is in a nutrition crisis.  According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than two out of every three adults is considered overweight or obese.4 Americans also suffer from many nutrient shortfalls. In particular, vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber are “nutrients of public health concern,” according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.5 Considering the large number of people taking prescription medications, coupled with the above facts, drug-nutrient interactions and depletions are a serious concern.

What are the most common medications associated with nutrient deficiencies?

Acid-suppressing medications, particularly H2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors, may affect both vitamin B12 and calcium absorption.2 Cholesterol-lowering medications, or statins, can impact CoQ10, which is necessary for cellular energy production.2 Oral hypoglycemic drugs (e.g. metformin/glucophage) used to help control blood glucose in people with diabetes, can affect folic acid and vitamin B12 levels.2 It is clear that these medications and other commonly used therapies have the potential to affect individual nutrient status.

How can family physicians help patients avoid these deficiencies?

Education is key. Family physicians are instrumental in educating their patients to help avoid possible drug-nutrient interactions and depletions that may have a significant impact on their nutritional status and overall health. It is important for family physicians to stay up to date on drug interactions and nutrient depletions through various methods, including educational tools and webinars.

We’ve sponsored the development of a drug-nutrient interactions and depletions app that lives within the American Academy of Family Physicians member mobile app. We also have many resources available on our website,, including a DNI/DND booklet and quick-glance handouts. In addition, we sponsor educational sessions on this topic at industry conferences, including FMX. Hopefully, these are valuable resources for family physicians and other health care professionals for helping their patients avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Susan Hazels Mitmesser, Ph.D., is VP of Science and Technology for Pharmavite, makers of Nature Made vitamins and supplements. Learn more at


1. Carr, Teresa. Too Many Meds? America’s Love Affair With Prescription MedicationConsumer Reports. (accessed 3 October 2018).
2. Meletis CD, Zabriskie N. Common Nutrient Depletions Caused by Pharmaceuticals. Alternative and Complementary Therapies 2007;13(1):10-7. doi: 10.1089/act.2006.13102
3. Mason P. Important drug-nutrient interactions. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2010;69(4):551-7. doi: 10.1017/s0029665110001576.
4. Overweight & Obesity Statistics. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (accessed 3 October 2018).
5. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (accessed 3 October 2018).