Drug-induced Nutrient Depletion: Are Your Medications Ruining Your Energy?

Published on: August 25, 2021

Drug-induced nutrient depletions are often overlooked as the root cause of side effects and medical conditions. It is important that physicians, specialists, dentists, dietitians and pharmacists pay close attention to a patient’s full medication list and explain nutrient depletion side effects of each medication the patient is taking or is considering taking. This includes prescription and over the counter drugs and supplements (Examples: Benadryl/diphenhydramine, green tea,  Alpha pills, multivitamins, injections, steroids, melatonin). Patients should be educated and aware of symptoms of nutrient deficiencies.

Some common symptoms of nutrient deficiencies:
• Fatigue
• Weakness
• Change of color of skin (ex: more yellow, more pale)
• Trouble breathing
• Depression, anxiety, brain fog and inability to think or remember things, words, and directions
• Tingling or numbness
• Changes in appetite, nausea, constipation, diarrhea

Common diabetes medication that causes nutrient depletions:

Category of medication: Biguanides (Metformin)

Biguanides are oral antihyperglycemic drugs responsible for improving glucose tolerance in those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. These drugs inhibit glucose production, decrease intestinal absorption of glucose, and improve insulin sensitivity. The most common example is Metformin.

Nutrients Depleted:

Metformin reduces the absorption of vitamin B12, which in turn reduces associated vitamins and minerals such as calcium
Chromium deficiency may occur and contribute to insulin resistance (opposite intended effect of the drug)
Magnesium depletion has also been reported

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is necessary for energy metabolism, nervous system and mental health
Food sources: Meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, eggs, soybeans, spinach

Chromium is necessary for glucose metabolism and increases the effectiveness of insulin (the way your body pulls sugar into cells to be used for energy), fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis
Food sources: Salt, soy sauce, brewers yeast, whole grain cereals

Magnesium is necessary for bone mineralization, enzyme action, nerve function and muscle relaxation
Food sources: Nuts, leafy green vegetables, seafood, whole grains, dark chocolate

It is important to know that there is a healthy range of nutrient levels and exceeding these levels can also cause adverse health effects. You can find healthy levels of nutrient intake by age and gender at https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx

Click here for more info and examples


This site provides general educational information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in the site and any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.



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Nicole Chenard, MS, RD, LDN learn more

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