Not sure if you should be taking Vitamin B6 on its own? Find out why you might need this nutrient from Amanda Williams, MD, MPH.
There are 11 total B-vitamins that make up a B-complex formula. These vitamins are needed for your brain, metabolism, energy and more.
Please see below for a complete transcript of this episode.
Birth Control Pills and Vitamin Deficiencies – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 514
Hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
InViteⓇ Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!
Amanda Williams, MPH:
[00:00:40] Did you know that approximately 25% of women in this country between the ages of 15 years old and 44 years old use oral contraceptives, also known as birth control pills? The reason I want to bring this up is because there is a strong correlation between nutrient depletions and the use of birth control, and this can affect women’s health in a variety of different ways. So it’s important to know what nutrients for sure that you should be taking, and to also just be aware of the fact that you may be exhibiting certain symptoms that are directly correlated to the use of your oral contraceptive, but because of the fact that it’s depleting these key and essential nutrients. So I’m Amanda Williams, MD, MPH and let’s get right to it.† [00:01:27]
[00:01:27] We know that birth control pills are still one of the most commonly used forms of contraceptive in this country, and we can see how the use of these synthetic hormones can definitely disrupt different systems outside of our sex hormones. Because remember, when we’re thinking about the endocrine system, we’re understanding that many different hormonal pathways are kind of interrelated. And when you start to break down… And this goes all the way back to the 1980s in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. And this is quite interesting because they talked about this since the 1980s, but if you were to talk to most women who have been put on oral contraceptives, whatever birth control it is the likelihood that their physician who prescribed them that, so whether it’s their primary doctor or it is their OB-GYN, the likelihood that they have also been told that you need to be taking said nutrients in conjunction with this is very low. But yet we can go back to the study out of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine in 1980, and we can see how it is that they’ve been able to link that close to 80% of women who are on birth control pills for upwards of six months are at a much greater likelihood for experiencing all of these decreases in key and essential vitamins, including things such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, your other B-vitamins, including folate, for example. These are important because we understand the significant role that these B-vitamins and our antioxidant vitamins are actually playing when it comes to so many functions in the body when it comes to our immune system, for example. So seeing this in what was really quite interesting about the study in the 1980s is that the fact that they could see the linkage to a deficiency in Vitamin B6, the fact that they could see a linkage to a deficiency in Vitamin B12. These were in and of themselves quite interesting.† [00:03:30]
[00:03:30] But what was really profound was that they could see that there was this abnormal ability to actually process tryptophan. So the metabolism of the amino acid tryptophan was implicated in so many of these women who were utilizing birth control pills. Now why does that matter? Think about the pathway of tryptophan. We know tryptophan is the amino acid, and then that’s in charge of helping to make serotonin and then melatonin. So what do we know about serotonin? Not only is that for our mood, our happy neurotransmitter, but we also have to recognize how it is that serotonin plays a role when it comes to appetite and in the setting of low serotonin, we have a greater likelihood of having cravings. So, many times you’ll talk to women who are on birth control and they’ll say, “Oh, I gained weight,” and they link it solely to the water gain that potentially the, the estrogen and progesterone creates this imbalance in the system. We certainly know that to be the case, but also this increase in appetite, and you have to then go back and say, “Oh, wait, this is because tryptophan is implicated in this whole problem here.” And then we look at how the B-vitamins are certainly playing a role in this as well.† [00:04:49]
[00:04:50] So then we look at a study that came out of the European Review of Medical Pharmacology, where they talked about how the use of oral contraceptives is at such a high rate and the influence of these oral contraceptives and nutrient requirements is really an area that needs to be addressed and because it has significant clinical relevance to this. This was in 2013. They looked at the main concern nutrients that can get depleted, including, as I mentioned, folic acid, looking at riboflavin, Vitamin B6, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E. There’s also the underlying potential that certain minerals, including things like selenium and zinc, can also take a hit because of the use of those birth control pills. So this is very, very problematic.† [00:05:43]
[00:05:44] Now, certainly when it comes to what women should be doing and we say, “OK, if we know that pretty much all of our B-vitamins are going to take a hit, we know that key minerals, including magnesium, zinc, selenium can also take a hit. Vitamin C, Vitamin E. What should women be doing?” Well, first and foremost, if you are prescribed a birth control pill, your physician should be telling you at minimum that you need to be taking a daily multivitamin. Now I take it a step further and I say we know that 80% of women are going to experience this, and we know that that tryptophan component is also playing a very important and problematic role into this. So what I would advise is that you are taking not only a comprehensive daily multivitamin, multimineral formulation such as the Core Multivitamin, but that you also look at taking additional B-vitamins. And I always turn to the Methyl-B because if we can take the biologically active form of those key B-vitamins, we’re taking the methylfolate, we’re taking that methylcobalamin for the B12, we can really help to support within the body the true function of those vitamins. We’re not worrying about any of those water-soluble vitamins somehow washing out if we take the biologically active form. So taking the Methyl-B in conjunction with your daily multivitamin, multimineral.† [00:07:05]
[00:07:05] But then it would also be advantageous, if you are starting to see any issue when it comes to increased cravings, if it comes to disruption in sleep would be to add in 5-HTP, so that is 5- hydroxytryptophan. That’s the rate-limiting step between the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. So I would advise looking at taking perhaps 50 or 100mg of 5-HTP in the evening to really help to support that serotonergic pathway. And this is always very important because we can look statistically and we understand that just in this country alone, 25% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 are using oral contraceptives and knowing that 80% of women who are on a birth control pill for over the course of six months are going to start to experience significant nutrient depletion and think about even for your skin, for example. If your Vitamin E and your Vitamin C levels are starting to plummet, this will have an impact on the health of your skin. So this is an area that many women need to just be cognizant of, because certainly, whatever your choice of birth control is your choice. But you also have to be aware of the fact that your doctor is likely not to tell you because they may not actually be aware of it themselves that there is a significant likelihood for these severe nutrient deletions to occur. So the more that you know, the better off that you are. So if you’re on birth control, make sure that you stock up on your Core Multivitamin, so the comprehensive blend. Taking, in addition to that, the Methyl-B formulation and consider the 5-HTP if you are experiencing issues, whether that be with cravings or whether that be with sleep.† [00:08:46]
[00:08:47] So I want to thank you so much for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Remember, you can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting invitehealth.com/podcast. Now do make sure that you subscribe and you leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @invitehealth and we will see you next time for another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast.† [00:08:47]
Gabapentin is a drug that is commonly prescribed for nerve pain, but this medication may cause you to lose important nutrients that are necessary for the health of your brain, heart and more.
In this episode of the InVite Health Podcast, Amanda Williams, MPH concludes her series on the workings of the immune system. Learn about the important role nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E and mushroom extract play in your immune defenses.
nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs nonprescription drugs
Please see below for a complete transcript of this episode.
Nonprescription Drugs That Deplete Important Nutrients, Part 2 – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 483
Hosted by Jerry Hickey, Ph.
InVite Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started!
Jerry Hickey, Ph.: Many commonly used drugs deplete important nutrients and the important message is, even over-the-counter drugs can deplete important nutrients. Over-the-counter drugs are drugs that do not require a prescription. In episode five of our drug-nutrient depletement series, I discussed acetaminophen, you know, Tylenol, and the nutrients it depletes; antacids, such as Mylanta and Maalox, and the nutrients they deplete; aspirin and the nutrients they deplete. I also mentioned that we did an episode recently on NSAIDs, just on NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, which would be Advil and Aleve, and their issues, including the nutrients they deplete. And today we’re going to discuss two other important families of drugs that have important nutrient depletions.†
So welcome to episode six, Nonprescription Drugs That Deplete Important Nutrients. My name is Jerry Hickey and I’m a nutritional pharmacist. I’m also the Senior Scientific Officer over here at InViteⓇ Health. Now, thanks for tuning in today to the podcast. You can find all of our episodes for free, we have hundreds of them, wherever you listen to podcasts or just visit invitehealth.com/podcast. Please subscribe and leave us a review. You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram and Metaverse, you know, Facebook. The information on this episode is linked at the episode description, so I’d like to get started.†
Let’s start off with laxatives. There are powerful laxatives, used to treat constipation, but also to clean out the bowels before like surgery. An example would be ex-lax, which is senna compounds, and more commonly used is bisacodyl. These are stimulant laxatives. They’re more powerful than the other laxatives. Other laxatives affect the environment of the intestines or affect the stool itself, making it more watery, etc., so it’s easier to pass. Stimulant laxatives actually work directly on the walls of the intestines. They stimulate evacuation. They stimulate the muscles to contract and get rid of whatever you need to get rid of. So they work quickly, they’re more powerful, they work directly on the walls of the intestines, so this can lead to certain side effects, like diarrhea, like an upset stomach and gassiness. Rectal irritation is not uncommon. They can also lead to dependence on laxatives. They’re more likely to do that than other laxatives.†
So we know that laxatives with bisacodyl deplete important minerals. That could be Feen-A-Mint; Carter’s Little Pills, that’s an old-time pharmacy product; Correctol; Dulcolax; PMS-Bisacodyl… so they deplete two really incredibly important minerals: calcium and potassium. Now, calcium is needed for regulating your heartbeat and your heart rate and your blood pressure. Calcium is needed for your muscles to work. One reason why your muscles spasm after intense exercise is cause the calcium was pumped out of them. Calcium is needed to release energy from sugar. Sugar is the main source of energy for the human body and the sugar’s converted into energy in these little vacuoles called mitochondria. They’re within your cells and calcium is at the core of that. These mitochondria cannot produce energy out of sugar if you lack calcium. And, of course, calcium’s needed for your bones.†
And then there’s potassium. It’s pretty easy to get potassium out of vegetables and fruits, so if you have three servings of vegetables every day and two servings of fruit, you’re getting a good amount of potassium. Most people don’t have three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day. The last time I saw the figure from NHANES, which is a national survey that’s periodically performed by the United States government, only 2% of Americans were getting sufficient potassium from their food. So what happens if you lack potassium? The body uses potassium to regulate the pH of your blood, so pH is acid or base or in between, which is neutral. Base is kind of like the opposite of acid, so your blood is supposed to be slightly basic. Slightly not acidic. And if it becomes acidic, you develop ketoacidosis, which is also called lactic acidosis. You can go into a coma and the chances are highly unlikely that you come out of that coma cause your organs shut down, like your kidneys and your lungs and your heart. So, if you lack potassium, one thing that happens is your body has to borrow the minerals from your bones to keep the blood slightly alkaline, slightly basic. Alkaline and basic are the same thing. So to keep the blood slightly basic, the body will borrow minerals from the bone and you can have depletion of calcium and other minerals from the bone, so lacking potassium can lead to bone loss and weak bones, fragility of bones like osteopenia, osteoporosis. Now, all of these minerals have to go somewhere and if your blood is becoming a little acid, then chances are your urine is going to be more acidic. And what happens to minerals in an acid environment of the urine? They congeal into crystals and they create kidney stones. So if you lack potassium, you have a much higher risk of losing bone and you have a much higher risk of developing kidney stones, but you can also lose muscle, which is bad. You need muscle for survival. You need muscle so you don’t tip over and hit your head or your hip or something. Muscle declines and strength declines with age. It’s a natural process but it’s a horrible process. Nobody wants it. It’s called sarcopenia. So if you have an acid environment where you’re lacking potassium, you lose more muscle at an accelerated rate, so you have worsening sarcopenia. So you need potassium, but once again, potassium is easy to get. You get it out of your vegetables, you get it out of fruits. Now, I have three to four servings of vegetables every day. I generally have two servings of vegetables with my lunch and generally two to three servings when I go home for dinner because my wife and I are pretty much vegetarian. The fruit? Yeah, probably two servings a day. Every day, I typically have berries, especially blueberries, and every day, I typically have an apple. Apples are really healthy, unbelievably healthy. So, if you’re on a laxative, you probably need calcium and potassium, especially if it’s a bisacodyl-containing laxative or if it’s a senna-containing laxative. They’re both irritant laxatives.†
Now, also today, we’re going to discuss H2 inhibitors, which are very important drugs. They were the original drugs that worked well for ulcers. Like if you had H. pylori infections (helicobacter pylori), it causes inflammation in the stomach and the start of the small intestine and it can lead to horrible ulcers. It can lead to stomach cramps and stomach pain, you know, gastritis. It can also lead to a type of stomach and intestinal cancer called mast cell lymphoma and about 90% of all cases of mast cell lymphoma are due to the H. pylori bacterium. So, one of the things they used to help treat that originally were drugs like cimetidine, which was Tagamet, or famotidine, which was Pepcid. Now, they’ve been replaced by proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole and Nexium, you know the little purple pill, and Aciphex.†
But here’s the issue. When you take a proton pump inhibitor, now we’ve done an episode on this, it completely squashes the release of acid and this could lead to serious complications. It can lead to infections. There’s some risk of cancer. It’s not a good thing to do all the time because when you take those drugs, they completely squash the release of acid, whereas these other drugs, the H2 inhibitors, they suppress about 80% of the release of acid. There’s some positives to that. They don’t have all the dangerous side effects that the proton pump inhibitors have. They’re a lot safer. But also, because you’re releasing about 20% of your stomach acids, that allows you to absorb important nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, cause these are absorbed by the upper part of the intestines, so it’s important to release these from foods very quickly. You have a better chance of absorbing B12. So there’s less depletion of nutrients with the H2 inhibitors than you have with the proton pump inhibitors.†
So how do they work? How do H2 inhibitors work? So, the real examples would be cimetidine, which is Tagamet, or famotidine, which is Pepcid. Just a note on the famotidine, which is Pepcid: There’s also some evidence that it helps you survive COVID-19, so it’s become a pretty popular pill. They affect the parietal cells in your stomach. So what do the parietal cells do? They release hydrochloric acid. So is it the hydrochloric acid that’s digesting your food? Not really. The hydrochloric acid affects something called pepsinogen and the pepsinogen releases a much more powerful acid called pepsin and that’s what’s breaking down your food. So with the H2 inhibitors, you’re still releasing about 20% of the acid. If you could switch from the proton pump inhibitors to an H2 inhibitor to treat your disease, whatever it might be, whether it’s H. pylori or ulcers or GERD, you might be better off because GERD is persistent, it’s that heartburn that’s always around.†
So what do they deplete? Well, they deplete Vitamin B1. Vitamin B1, also called thiamin, becomes many different forms in the human body and it affects a pathway called transketolase. So that’s bad because transketolase helps control your body’s sugar. If you deplete B1 with these drugs, it makes it hard to control your sugar. You have a higher risk of prediabetes, which can go into diabetes. But that’s also terrible for your brain. Sugar is the source of energy in the brain. Sugar and cholesterol are very important in the brain. Cholesterol makes the tissues. Sugar gives the brain energy. The brain is not working with fats and proteins, although it’s made out of fats. The brain is 60% fats and it uses protein amino acids, these are the things that make protein to make all the different neurotransmitters for the brain to function. But energy in the brain is out of sugar and if Vitamin B1 is depleted, you don’t have transketolase activity in the brain, the brain cannot use sugar for energy. This really increases your risk of Alzheimer’s. In fact, some researchers call Alzheimer’s “diabetes of the brain” because there’s such a tie-in to poor metabolism in the brain. If you lack B1… B1 is needed for energy production. If you lack B1, you have a higher risk of a weak heart and even going into heart failure, congestive heart failure. And if you lack B1, you have a much higher risk of developing cataracts. If you’re on an H2 inhibitor, make sure you’re getting some Vitamin B1. It’s in your multivitamin. Make sure you’re getting a good multivitamin.†
Vitamin B12. If you’re on an H2 inhibitor, it’s likely depleting your Vitamin B12. So what does that mean? Well, if you lack B12, you develop megaloblastic anemia. The red cells get too big to carry oxygen and you get fatigue and a bunch of other symptoms. If you lack B12, your brain can shrink. The brain can shrink anyway for anyone, but a little bit of shrinkage is ok. But if there’s an inordinate amount of shrinkage, you could go into mild cognitive impairment, which leads into Alzheimer’s disease. And there’s evidence that if you lack B12 or you lack Vitamin D or you lack fish oils, these nutrients work together to prevent shrinkage of the brain. B12 is also needed for energy in general. It’s needed for nerve health. That’s one reason if you lack it, you have problems with your brain, cause you make the myelin sheaths on the nerves going into your brain, which transfer messages from your body into your brain more quickly. So it depletes B12, you can get that in a multivitamin.†
It depletes folate. That’s really bad. Folate lowers homocysteine and so does B12, by the way. They’re both needed to lower homocysteine. Homocysteine is kind of like a midway metabolic product of protein metabolism, so the body is not really looking for homocysteine. The body is trying to change the amino acids and protein into something else. So if you lack B12 or folate, homocysteine levels go up. In the brain, it’s terrible. In the brain, it’s a solvent. It strongly can contribute to depression, but it can also strongly contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, so you want your homocysteine low. You want it below nine. A second thing: It can inflame the back of the eyes and contribute to age-associated eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, which is the number one cause of blindness in aging people. It can hollow out your bones. Homocysteine can hollow out your bones. And it can trigger inflammation in your heart that can lead to heart disease and a heart attack. If you have elevated homocysteine on its own, it’s probably not as bad for the heart, unless you have other contributing factors that are bad for the heart, like elevated blood sugar, like elevated blood pressure, like elevated cholesterol, like elevated triglycerides. Folate is also needed to lower the risk of cancer. Folate attaches to the genes in your chromosomes and shields them from things like radiation and viruses and heavy metals like arsenic and the toxins released by bacteria and pollutants, etc. They call it methylation. If you lack the folate, your genes are not properly methylated and there’s a higher risk of developing cancer. But once again, that’s in a multivitamin. The folate, the B1, the B12.†
Vitamin D. The immune system requires Vitamin D in two ways. Vitamin D is so important to immune cells that they can actually create the active form of Vitamin D. They can activate Vitamin D. We once thought only the kidneys could activate Vitamin D. Now we know that’s not true. So Vitamin D is needed for the immune system to work, but it’s also needed to protect your lungs and other organs and tissues from your own immune system and from the viruses themselves. For instance, COVID-19 causes that dreaded cytokine storm, where your own immune system is inflaming your lungs so much that the lining floods with fluid and you develop acute respiratory distress syndrome. Then you can end up on oxygen or a ventilator and it’s just not good. So Vitamin D is needed to protect your lungs and your other organs when you have a virus, not just from the virus, but from your own immune system, which is very powerful. You need Vitamin D for calcium absorption, so lacking Vitamin D is bad for your bones, but that would also be bad for your muscles cause your muscles require Vitamin D and calcium to function. And that would also be a problem with energy production cause you need the calcium to make energy out of sugar. So there’s a whole host of things that start to occur if you lack Vitamin D and H2 inhibitors can deplete your Vitamin D. It can deplete your calcium.†
It can deplete your zinc. Zinc is needed for everything. You need zinc to protect your brain. It interacts with an antioxidant enzyme called SOD type 1 and SOD type 3 to shield your brain from damage. In your eyes, it does the same thing. It lowers your risk of eye diseases such as cataracts. It helps keep the arteries in your heart clean to help prevent coronary heart disease. It’s needed for healing. It’s needed for the immune system, just like Vitamin D. They’re both required for the immune system. It’s needed by the pancreas to control your blood sugar. It’s needed by the pancreas to release enzymes to digest your food. It’s needed by the thyroid to release thyroid hormones. It’s needed to create the active form of Vitamin A for your vision. It’s just needed for so many things and once again, these drugs deplete zinc and they deplete iron.†
Iron‘s like zinc. Iron does so many things. Iron works with an antioxidant system called catalase. When you make energy out of oxygen and sugar, that’s how the body runs on energy, a byproduct is peroxides. There’s always a bit of peroxide floating around. Peroxide is very toxic. It’s a solvent. It can kill all your cells, so the body has catalase. Catalase breaks hydrogen peroxide down to oxygen and water, which are both very useful for the body. And it’s said that one molecule of catalase can break down a million molecules of hydrogen peroxide, so it’s very effective. This is especially important to the liver that does so many jobs. So if you lack iron, you can’t make catalase. If you lack iron, you can’t make hemoglobin, the red stuff in your blood, so you can’t carry oxygen, so you’re gonna be very fatigued. It’s very dangerous. And if the iron is too low and you develop anemia, about 85,000 people a year worldwide die from anemia. That’s how serious that can be. But of course, you might not deplete the iron to that level with an H2 inhibitor, but you can deplete it enough so you have some issues, cause iron’s also needed by the immune system to kill viruses. Iron is needed to protect the brain and eyes. It’s formed into neuroglobin. Iron is needed for your muscles for energy and endurance and strength. It makes myoglobin in the muscles. In fact, women who are just a little bit shy on iron, they tend to have no stamina. They can’t go into the gym and get any real, useful exercise. So here’s what you’re lacking if you’re taking an H2 inhibitor. Folate, and the best form to take is methyltetrahydrofolate, cause that’s the active form. That’s much better than the synthetic form in most vitamins, cause some people can’t convert that to the active form. Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium, iron and zinc.†
So once again, always check with your nurse practitioner, your medical doctor or your pharmacist to make sure you can take these things when you’re on a drug because you might have other considerations. But, in general, to help prevent a depletion: a really good multivitamin; sometimes a glutathione precursor, depending on the drug (we went over that in the previous episode); ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10; sometimes probiotics, a lot of drugs can deplete probiotics (but they’re still working that out, we’re not sure which drugs deplete probiotic bacteria); and sometimes melatonin. So if you take those, you may cover everything basically.†
So thanks for listening to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast today. You can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen or just visit invitehealth.com/podcast. Please subscribe and leave us a review. You can also follow us on Metaverse, Twitter and Instagram @invitehealth. Hope to see you next time on another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Jerry Hickey signing off.