Blood Pressure Drugs Can Cause Vitamin Depletion
Although there are many medications available to control high blood pressure, the one most commonly prescribed is a diuretic. This is the go-to choice of many doctors for two reasons. They've been prescribing them for decades and diuretics are inexpensive when compared to other blood pressure medications.
Diuretics, sometimes called "water pills" and other blood pressure medications in general often cause you to pee out important life-giving nutrients. These nutrients are necessary to make other organs run efficiently, and are needed for most of your body’s essential tasks.
Abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called edema. These drugs are used to reduce edema and to ease the shortness of breath that some of you experience as a result of congestion of fluid in your lungs.
Diuretics work by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing sodium and water from your urine. Because the amount of sodium your body retains decrees how much water stays in your system, allowing sodium to pass in the urine also allows additional water to be released. This increase in urine helps lower high blood pressure because it reduces the amount of water in the blood and therefore, blood volume. However, losing too much sodium or other minerals, such as zinc, potassium and magnesium in the urine can lead to serious new problems.
Some of the problems associated with diuretics include:
Sodium Loss. This causes problems like confusion, falls, fits, lightheadedness and fainting type spells when rising from a sitting or stooped position, and even temporary muscle weakness on one side of the body.
Potassium Loss. Low blood levels of potassium can cause extreme fatigue, irritability, inability to stay awake or concentrate and even worse, an abnormal heart beat, or even heart failure. Hopefully your doctor has warned you about this danger and told you to take potassium supplements. Unfortunately, a banana a day is not enough to make up for the potassium you lose. Potassium gluconate is available in most health food stores and generally the recommended dosage is 500 mg to 1,000 mg daily.
Magnesium Loss. When magnesium and calcium levels are normal, your chance of having high blood pressure and heart disease are less. This partially explains why communities with hard water rich in calcium and magnesium often have few heart attack victims.
Diuretics can also raise blood cholesterol levels, disrupt carbohydrate metabolism, and can lead to diabetes mellitus in elderly patients. They cause inflammation of the pancreas and gallbladder, deafness, and loss of bladder control. Some researchers fear they may even be linked to cancer of the kidney.
If You Must Take a Diuretic
If your doctor still recommends a diuretic, make sure you take daily doses of minerals like zinc (15–30 mg), potassium (500–1,000 mg), and magnesium (250–750 mg) along with a good multivitamin/mineral supplement. And whatever you do, make sure your doctor regularly checks your electrolyte and mineral levels. It would be ridiculous to take diuretics to control life-threatening high blood pressure and at the same time create a potassium deficiency that could end up causing heart failure.
Loop diuretics (furosemide, bumetanide): Reduces calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin C. Loop diuretics are the second-biggest "drug mugger" I can think of, right behind acid blockers! When you take a loop diuretic, you can expect to become depleted in these nutrients within weeks, meaning all kinds of symptoms pop up that look like new diseases. To make sure you don't suffer while taking this type of medication, I suggest you get a high-quality form of each of those nutrients, or a medical food that is approved by your physician. A multivitamin just won't do.
Potassium-sparing (amiloride, triamterene, spironolactone): These are considered relatively weak diuretics and are often used in combination with stronger ones. These reduce calcium, zinc and folate. A reduction in these can worsen your ability to detoxify and rid yourself of poisons (by cramping your methylation pathway), and weaken your bones, cause spasms, cramps, cardiac rhythm disturbances and poor libido.
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