Medications that Deplete Magnesium

Did you know some medications can deplete certain nutrients both through metabolism or by preventing their absorption? Being realistic, a large proportion of the population does take prescription medication, often long-term. So we’re here to educate about some of the lesser known side-effects and help improve your quality of life in the process! Now, obviously we’re going to focus on magnesium because we LOVE it so much. 

Even when people are very conscientious about their diets, they may be taking medications that can undermine healthy magnesium levels. Drugs and micronutrients use the same transport and metabolism pathways in the body for their intestinal absorption, metabolism, and elimination. Now, these medications can interfere with nutrient absorption, use nutrients as it’s metabolised, or increase the excretion or use in the body by influencing other body systems. Additionally, certain nutrients can interfere with how the drug works in the body, so it’s always best to get a qualified health professionals opinion before starting anything new (even two professionals if need be). 

Polypharmacy is when an individual is taking more than one prescription medication, which is exceptionally common, and these people will be more at risk for nutrient loss due to medications. Diuretics, as well as acid-suppressing drugs (i.e. nexium or antacids), antibiotics, metformin, oral contraception and HRT, corticosteroids (like prednisone), and digoxin (heart medication) can all affect magnesium levels. How do they do this, you ask?

Diuretics often deplete magnesium along with potassium through the increased fluid excretion. Some drugs, particularly antidepressants, insulin mimicking drugs, and omeprazole (antacid) can interfere with how magnesium enters the cell by blocking certain pathways. This is particularly important for those taking insulin and antidepressants/antipsychotics. 

Other drugs such as antimicrobials, chemotherapy agents, cetuximab, and ventolin can increase the loss of magnesium through urine. If you happen to be using a proton-pump inhibitor to decrease stomach acid, this changes the pH of your stomach and small intestine so ulcers and esophageal damage can heal. However, by increasing the intragastric pH, PPIs can impair the absorption and use of micronutrients such as magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B12. We should also mention that high alcohol intake and conditions that affect kidney function or the intestines can negatively affect magnesium levels additionally.

So, there are several types of drugs that can decrease your magnesium stores, and several ways they can do this. Usually, those on long-term medications (of those mentioned), the elderly or those on multiple medications may be at higher risk for low magnesium levels. Since magnesium is used in around 80% of all metabolic functions, it’s pretty important to know the side-effects. Concentrating on magnesium rich foods, using magnesium baths, and potentially supplementing (see your health practitioner first), are all easy steps to help curb the risk. If you have any concerns, it’s best to check with your practitioner or add it to your regular testing schedule. 




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