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One of the most widely used first line AIDS drugs linked to ‘Severe Vitamin D Deficiency’

Posted July 19, 2010

It is one of those ‘far enough ahead of your time to suffer for it medical maverick” moments. Integrative medical practitioners have long recognized because of their knowledge and use of the body’s biochemistry that prescription drugs deplete the body of certain nutrients. It’s called drug induced nutrient depletion. The side effects of medication are often related to or caused directly by the phenomenon of drug induced nutrient depletion. It was written about by two well-known integrative pharmacists, Dr. Ross Pelton and Dr. James Lavelle, in their book Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, 1999-2000 (Paperback – Jun 15, 1999).

For example, the class of drugs known as steroids or corticosteroids is widely accepted to have more side effects than any other single classification of medications. It is not widely embraced that steroids deplete the body of more nutrients than any other single class of medications.  Weight gain, bone thinning, immune suppression, cataracts are all side effects of the long-term use of steroids that can be related to the nutrients depleted by the use of steroids.

Drug induced nutrient depletion has recently been acknowledged in the mainstream media. News wire services picked up the UK group report from the June 25, 2010 online issue of AIDS which indicated the use of tenofovir or efavirenz, one of the most widely used first line HIV drugs, are at risk for clinically significant vitamin D deficiency and subsequently, excessive bone turnover. Click here to read about this in further detail.

With it widely accepted that up to 89% of all Americans may be less than optimally vitamin D nourished, it is of interest to note thanks to a University of Maryland Medical Center data base the drugs that deplete the body of vitamin D. They include anti-inflammatory medications including inhalant, systemic, and topical corticosteroids, antibiotic medications, anti-convulsant medications, anti-ulcer medications, cholesterol lowering medications, and some laxatives. Click here for a more in-depth look at the medications known to deplete the body of vitamin D.

An increasing number of nutritionally oriented practitioners question the practice of targeting LDL cholesterol as the bad cholesterol to be lowered with a medication with the knowledge that LDL cholesterol is essential in vitamin D production; click here to read further www.jpands.org/vol10no3/colpo.pdf. Vitamin D controls 1 in 10 of our body’s genes and it recognized to be essential for bone health, protection from many forms of cancer, integral in immune system function and balance, protection from heart disease and stroke, protection from asthma and autism, protection from chronic pain, and much more.

Just as the Celebrex/Vioxx issue transcended risk to benefit analysis of prescription drug use to mainstream media lingo, it is essential that drug induced nutrient depletion be part of the education and empowerment of healthcare consumers as well as that of their practitioners and pharmacists. The side effects of properly prescribed prescription drugs can affect many and are costly both medically and financially. Dr. Frank Post and Dr. Tanya Welz of King’s College Hospital in London noted that current efavirenz use doubled the likelihood of the risk of severe vitamin D deficiency. We know that has serious consequences beyond even bone health.

It’s time for mainstream conventional medicine and the popular media to begin to educate themselves, their patients, and their readers/viewers/listeners about drug induced nutrient depletion.

Deborah Ray, MT (ASCP)