Treatment Guide

Americans Spend Over $25 Billion Each Year on 8 Pharmaceutical Drugs That Deplete Nutrients


Lipitor raked in more than $5 billion for pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer Inc., during 2009 according to

Nexium Depletes Nutrients

Are drugs making you sick?

Sales of the 5 leading drugs for mental disorders topped $12,750,023,000, while Nexium and Prevacid totaled 7,523,382,000.

All eight of these drugs deplete nutrients. 


Revenues of the Top 8 Selling Drugs of 2009

Lipitor: lowers cholesterol – $5,363,193,000

Nexium: acid reducer – $5,014,827,000

Prevacid: acid reducer – $2,508,555,000

Seroquel: antipsychotic – $3,117,591,000

Abilify: antipsychotic – $3,083,351,000

Cymbalta: antidepressant – $2,404,353,000

Effexor XR: antidepressant/anxiety – $2,385,507,000

Lexapro: antidepressant/anxiety – $2,334,422,000


This small selection of highly popular pharmaceuticals serves to highlight how many people are being affected by nutrient-depleting drugs.

The people who swallowed these pills were put at risk for nutritional deficiencies, but were they informed by their physicians?

If you knew that a drug would cause anemia, make you crazy or weaken your heart, would you take it? If you knew the real risks, would you ask to be monitored and treated for resulting deficiencies?

Of course you would!

Nutrient depletion from drugs adds insult to injury for people with malabsorption disorders like celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and Crohn’s disease, or people with certain chronic diseases, those over 50 years of age, and those who take multiple drugs.

What is most concerning is that many doctors who prescribe these drugs do not recognize the symptoms of nutritional deficiencies when they develop. Although only eight drugs are discussed in this article, many more cause nutritional deficiencies.


What Deficiencies Do These Drugs Cause?

  • Lipitor. Lipitor depletes Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10, which the body produces, is involved in electron transport and energy production within cells. Coenzyme Q10 is also a powerful antioxidant, facilitating the removal within cells of destructive free radicals that are produced during normal metabolism. The most common deficiency symptoms include angina and fatigue. It is now established that many people on statin drugs (cholesterol lowering medications and HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitors) have lowered coenzyme Q10 levels.  Notice that these expensive drugs can actually cause heart disease? Many cardiologists routinely utilize coenzyme Q10 for treating congestive heart failure because low coenzyme Q10 levels lead to heart disease. 


  • Seroquel, Abilify, Cymbalta, Effexor, Lexapro. Anti-Psychotics/ Anti-Depressants/ Anti-Anxiety drugs deplete Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin B12.Vitamin B12 is essential for 1) the metabolism of all cells, especially for those of the digestive tract, bone marrow and nervous tissue; 2) the formation of red blood cells, platelets (clotting cells), and immune cells; 3) maintenance of the central nervous system; 4) interaction with folate metabolism, preventing folate derivatives from being trapped in unusable states; and 5) preventing accumulation of homocysteine, a toxic metabolic byproduct linked to cardiovascular disease and connective tissue abnormalities.Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency appear when liver stores are depleted. Symptoms include distorted taste, intermittent diarrhea and constipation, considerable weight loss, poorly localized abdominal pain, sore beefy, red tongue, low stomach acid, muscle weakness, and nervous system and blood impairment.Neurological symptoms involve progressive neuropathy, with loss of position-sense and balance, causing ataxia. If vitamin B12 is not replaced, permanent neurological damage, including degeneration of nerves and spinal cord can result. In advanced deficiency, paranoia, delirium, confusion and spastic ataxia develop.Decrease in blood cell counts (red, white and platelets) and anemia are marked by shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, apathy and irritability. Anemia results from defective blood cell formation as a result of poor folate action owing to lack of vitamin B12.  Evidence suggests that mental symptoms of depression and fatigue are detectable before anemia develops.Notice that these drugs, created to treat mental disorders, actually cause mental problems! None of these drugs were developed to be taken long term.  They were made to prevent patients from harm in the short term until the cause of their mental disorder could be found and corrected. Many nervous disorders develop from nutritional deficiencies in the first place, or at least in part. Testing for deficiencies should be mandatory before prescribing and during administration of these drugs.


  • Nexium and Prevacid. Antacids and anti-ulcer drugs prevent absorption of minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium and the vitamins folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Minerals require sufficient acid to be dissolved out of the food we eat and to be ionized (charged positive or negative) in order to be absorbed.  No charge, no absorption…lost nutrients.  Antacids must not be taken within 2 hours of eating to allow the stomach to produce sufficient acid for digestion.


Protect your health. If you take prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs, ask the pharmacist about nutritional deficiencies and drug actions. Discuss this issue with your doctor before changing or discontinuing prescription medication.  Some drugs need to be tapered off and monitored with blood work.

If you regularly take a drug or drugs, visit to find out whether your drug causes nutrient deficiencies.

If you want to find out your nutritional status and what you need to do to correct your individual nutritional deficiencies, consider subscribing to our Gluten Free Works Health Guide or requesting your doctor test you using Spectracell Laboratories’ Micronutrient Analysis. Knowing exactly where you stand and having a plan to replenish your nutrients is the fastest and best way to get well and stay healthy.

Author Information: Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN
Cleo Libonati is a Co-Founder of Gluten Free Works, Inc.
 She is the author of Recognizing Celiac Disease.
She can be reached by E-mail.

About Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN is CEO and co-Founder of Gluten Free Works, Inc. and She is the author and publisher of the highly recommended celiac disease reference guide, Recognizing Celiac Disease.
  • Renee L. says:

    I’m a health care provider and I ALWAYS recommend to patients taking ANY statin (Lipitor) to take Co-Q10. I also recommend to all patients taking ANY antidepressant to take a B-Complex Vitamin as their immune system is compromised anyway from the stress hormones and this helps replenish that. As for Nexium or Prevacid I always recommend a good multivitamin to replenish those nutrients lost and check a Vitamin D level and replace it when necessary. Not all providers are inadequate in this area. I’m gluten free and well aware of lost nutrients from medications and food. Another area is antibiotics!! I ALWAYS recommend a good multi-complex probiotic whenever I prescribe one!! I want to limit the risk of ‘leaky gut’! I’ve been sharing these tid-bits with other providers and it really does help the patients out!!

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