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Medications
Depletions
Editorial Note
Supporting Research

Medications

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Depletions

Beta-Carotene

The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, therefore, deficiency symptoms are the same as those of vitamin A. The earliest symptom is night blindness. Prolonged deficiency leads to more advanced changes in eye tissue. Other potential signs of mild to moderate deficiency include rough, dry skin, loss of appetite, loss of hair luster, brittle nails, joint pain, and increased susceptibility to infection.

Vitamin A (Retinol)

The earliest symptom of deficiency of this nutrient is night blindness. Prolonged deficiency leads to more advanced changes in eye tissue. Other potential signs of mild to moderate deficiency include rough, dry skin, loss of appetite, loss of hair luster, brittle nails, joint pain, and possibly increased susceptibility to infection.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency leads to abnormal bone formation (rickets) in children and softening of the bones (osteomalacia) in adults. Vitamin D deficiency interferes with calcium absorption, leading to deficiency of that nutrient, as well as all of the associated symptoms, such as increased risk of fractures, osteoporosis (bone loss), and muscle weakness. More recently, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to compromised immunity, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Because this nutrient is fat-soluble, prolonged periods of deficiency are required to produce these symptoms.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E deficiency is uncommon. When it does occur, it negatively affects muscle tissue, red blood cells, nervous, and reproductive systems. Over the long term, depleted levels of this nutrient may also be associated with cancer, heart disease, and altered immune function.

Vitamin K

The major symptom of vitamin K deficiency is an inability of the blood to clot properly, which may lead to excessive bleeding and a tendency to bruise easily.

Editorial Note

The information presented here covers some of the nutrients that may be lowered when you take certain medications. The signs and symptoms listed can be caused by other conditions. If you have these signs and symptoms, it doesn't always mean you have low levels of these nutrients. Many things affect the level of nutrients, including your medical history, diet, and lifestyle, as well as how long you have been taking the medication. Please talk with your health care provider. He or she can best address your health care needs and see if you are at risk for low levels of any nutrients.

Supporting Research

Ames BN. Micronutrient deficiencies: A major cause of DNA damage. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2000;889:87-106.

Cashman KD. Calcium and vitamin D. Novartis Found Symp. 2007;282:123-38; discussion 138-42, 212-8.

Guardia G, Parikh N, Eskridge T, Phillips E, Divine G, Rao DS. Prevalence of vitamin D depletion among subjects seeking advice on osteoporosis: a five-year cross-sectional study with public health implications. Osteoporos Int. 2007; [Epub ahead of print].

Kumar: Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, Professional Edition, 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier Inc. 2009.

Mustacich DJ, Bruno RS, Traber MG. Vitamin E. Vitam Horm. 2007;76:1-21.

Pelton R, LaValle J, Hawkins EB, et al. Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook. Hudson, OH:LexiComp, Inc.;2001:476-477.

Rakel: Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011.

Stahl W, Heinrich U, Aust O, Tronnier H, Sies H. Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006;5(2):238-42.

Stocker R. Vitamin E. Novartis Found Symp. 2007;282:77-87; discussion 87-92, 212-8.

Voutilainen S, Nurmi T, Mursu J, Rissanen TH. Carotenoids and cardiovascular health. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(6):1265-71.

West KP Jr. Vitamin A deficiency disorders in children and women. Food Nutr Bull. 2003;24(4 Suppl):S78-90.

Review Date: 9/25/2012
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed HealthCare Network.
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