As a parent and as a pharmacist, I am concerned about what I am introducing to my kids. Children will get sick, they will need medications, and they will get better. If medications are used just once or twice, it’s no big deal. However, the problem is when medications are used chronically over a longer period of time. Everything we put into our bodies; food, drinks, vitamins, supplements, and medications must be absorbed, metabolized, detoxified, and removed from the body. Along this process our body uses individual vitamins and minerals to perform these actions. For example, when our skin is exposed to sunlight we absorb vitamin D. Viamin D must be absorbed, metabolized, and converted from D2 into active D3 to be of any use within the body.
Most of our bodies were designed for this. However, when we start introducing modified foods and medications into our systems on a regular basis this is the problem. We weren’t designed for antibiotics, ADHD medications, or asthma medications. So when we use these chemicals on a regular basis, they also need to be absorbed, metabolized, detoxified, and removed from the body. So in order for this to happen we use up our vitamins, minerals, co-factors, and enzymes to make this happen on a daily basis. So if an adult or a child is taking a medication on a regular basis, what are they taking to replenish the vitamins and minerals being stripped from the body?
Here are 5 medications commonly prescribed for children. While these are examples similar results can be found with other medications within the same class.
When used for a prolonged period of time amoxicillin has been shown to deplete lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, biotin, folic acid, inositol, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, and K.
Symptoms of these depletions could include dysbiosis, weight gain, restlessness, ADHD, anxiety, thyroid dysfunction, fatigue.
Overtime methylphenidate has been shown to deplete magnesium and zinc. Magnesium depletion could cause depression, insulin resistance, ADHD, Asthma, Epilepsy, Sleep disturbances, and insomnia.
Oral or Inhaled steroids
Inhaled steroids or oral steroids (prednisone or prednisolone) commonly used for asthma in adults and kids could be responsible for the depletion of amino acids (building blocks of protein), beta-carotene, b6, b12, vitamin c, calcium, chromium, D, DHEA, melatonin, protein, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
The depletion of these nutrients and vitamins could lead to a neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, or thyroid dysfunction.
Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors
SSRI’s including fluoxetine and citalopram have been shown to deplete melatonin and iodine. Low levels of melatonin and iodine can lead to irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbances, and thyroid imbalances. Of interest is that bromide salt used in escitalopram or citalopram could cause displacement of the iodine which lead to the thyroid imbalances.
Clonidine is commonly used in kids and adolescents for ADHD. This medication can deplete melatonin. Low levels of melatonin can lead to irritability and sleep disturbance.
So what can you do about it?
I think awareness shines light on the solution. I think adults, and adolescents need to pay attention to their body and observe changes that occur after starting medications. When we think of a change right away in the short term we tend to think its a side effect. We usually don’t think about the chemistry or biochemistry that is changing within the body causing the side effect.
Without awareness you can not prevent the side effects, or the long term cascade of medications. During college, doctors and pharmacist get very little training on nutrition or nutrient depletion. Because we are not trained to think this way we commonly overlook symptoms that are common symptoms of nutrient depletion.
So what steps can you take right now?
- Help build up a strong immune system. This can be done by limiting the amount of foods you are giving to kids with Added Sugars. Check the back of the package I was amazed at the amount of Added Sugars are in our food supply. Sugar can decrease the immune response in kids and make them more prone to getting sick in the first place.
- Boost their immune system with Vitamin D. Vitamin D drops are very inexpensive for kids and when their skin is covered up because its cold it is just a good idea to give them extra Vitamin D.
- Give them magnesium. Magnesium comes in so many different forms and can help kids get some sleep if they have a hard time with that. Magnesium is used in over 5000 processes in the body so it might be a good idea to make sure you have a natural source of magnesium.
- If an antibiotic is needed, make sure they get a multi strain probiotic and a good multivitamin