Drugs That Cause Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

and also important minerals, decreasing the absorption and / or increasing the loss of essential micronutrients.

Knowing the most important and frequent cases helps doctors and patients to prevent hypovitaminosis and mineral deficiencies, associating drug therapy with specific vitamin supplements and / or appropriate dietary corrections.


Below are the best known cause / effect relationships between the intake of certain drugs and vitamin / mineral deficiencies, remembering that it is the doctor's sole responsibility to establish whether or not to support the drug with a specific supplement of vitamins or minerals (yes remember, for example, that in some cases this practice could compromise the absorption or efficacy of the drug itself).

(penicillin, cephalosporin, tetracycline, etc.): they alter and destroy the intestinal bacterial flora, including the essential strains for the synthesis of some vitamins, such as folic acid and vitamin K. In the long run they can cause bleeding syndromes due to lack of synthesis of vitamin K.
  • DIURETICS: used mainly for the treatment of arterial hypertension, they increase the loss of vitamins (group B, especially B1, and vitamin C) and minerals (especially potassium, magnesium and calcium)
  • LAXATIVES: they mainly inhibit the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • RESINS SEQUESTRATING BILE ACIDS: used against hypercholesterolemia, they can reduce the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • FIBRATES: used against high cholesterol, they can reduce the availability of B vitamins (B12, B6, B3) and folates; the latter are also important to compensate for the increase in homocysteine ​​levels induced by fibrates
  • STATINS: used against high cholesterol, they can promote vitamin D and coenzyme Q10 deficiency
  • ANTACIDS, H2 ANTAGONISTS AND INHIBITORS OF THE PROTON PUMP: they help to solve problems such as gastritis, reflux and peptic ulcers, reducing the acidity of the gastric contents; however, for the same reason they can reduce the absorption of vitamin B12, Beta-carotene, Vitamin D and folic acid, as well as that of minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc.
  • ANTI-CONCEPTION PILL AND HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy in Menopause): can reduce plasma levels of B vitamins, Vitamin C and Folic Acid, as well as that of important minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc, and some amino acids (tryptophan and tyrosine ).
  • ASPIRIN AND ANTIREUMATICS (corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): in the long run they cause a significant reduction in vitamin C (especially aspirin) in white blood cells and blood platelets (which participate in the coagulation process), with consequent risk of bleeding. They can also reduce the availability of Vitamin B12 and folic acid
  • CHEMOTHERAPY (antimitotics, anticancer): some of these act by inhibiting the transformation of folic acid into its active form, blocking a fundamental process for cellular replication. This results in a reduction in the levels of vitamin in the body.
  • ANTITUBERCULARS (e.g. isoniazid): they cause in the tuberculosis patient, already undernourished, vitamin B6 deficiencies with consequent neurological diseases of the polyneuritic type, or vitamin PP deficiencies that induce depressive neuropsychic disorders.
  • ANTIDIABETICS (biguanides, metformin, and sulfonylureas): they can cause a deficiency of vitamin B12, coenzyme Q10 and folic acid; some sulfonylureas (glipizide, acetohexamide, glyburide and tolazamide) inhibit enzymes necessary for the synthesis of an important antioxidant, coenzyme Q10. Chlorpropramide and tolbutamide are two sulfonylureas that do not interfere with coenzyme Q10. Metformin (biguanide) also reduces the levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body, as well as those of Vitamin B12 and folic acid.
  • ANTICONVULSIVANTS prescribed in cases of epilepsy (eg. Diphenylhydantoin): in the long run they can be associated with blood damage due to folic acid deficiency and bone damage due to vitamin D deficiency.
  • ANTIDEPRESSANTS (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): in the long run, they can favor the onset of melatonin and B vitamins deficiencies.
  • Some Drugs That Cause Vitamin Deficiencies (Merk Manual) Drug Vitamins Alcohol Folate, Thiamine (B1) and Vitamin B6 Antacids Vitamin B12 Antibiotics, such as isoniazid, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole combinations
    Vitamins of Group B, Folate, Vitamin K Anticoagulants, such as warfarin

    Vitamin E, Vitamin K Anticonvulsants, such as phenytoin, primidone and phenobarbital
    Biotin (Vitamin H), Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, Vitamin K. Antipsychotics Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin D

    Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital
    Folate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin D

    Chemotherapy drugs such as methotrexate
    Folate Cholestyramine
    Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K Corticosteroids Vitamin C, Vitamin D Cycloserine
    Vitamin B6 Hydralazine Vitamin B6 Levodopa Vitamin B6 Mineral oil, eg. Paraffin (long-term use) Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K Metformin
    Folate, Vitamin B12 Nitric oxide (repeated exposure) Vitamin B12 Oral contraceptives Folate, Thiamine, Vitamin B6 Penicillamine
    Vitamin B6 Phenothiazines Riboflavin Primidone
    Folate, Vitamin D
    Vitamin D, Vitamin K Sulfasalazine
    Folate Thiazide diuretics Riboflavin Triamterene
    Folate Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and imipramine
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