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Acid-Suppressing Medicine Can Deplete the Body of Needed Magnesium

Acid-suppressing drugs can control heartburn symptoms, but they can also reduce absorption of important nutrients including magnesium and vitamin B12.

Q. My doctor prescribed Prilosec for heartburn and I took it for about a year. After discontinuing the Prilosec I was feeling very tired. The blood work that was done showed I had very low magnesium levels.

I took magnesium supplements as my doctor recommended and got my levels back to normal. This side effect of taking acid-suppressing drugs is worth sharing. Too few people pay attention to the possible side effects of drugs before they start taking them.

A. Omeprazole (Prilosec) and other acid-suppressing drugs such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) and esomeprazole (Nexium) control heartburn symptoms, but they can also reduce absorption of important nutrients including magnesium and vitamin B12. Everyone taking one of these medications for long periods of time should be monitored for such nutritional deficits.

We are sending you our Guide to Digestive Disorders so that you can learn about other ways to keep heartburn under control as well as the pros and cons of acid-suppressing drugs. A magnesium deficiency wouldn’t necessarily lead to fatigue, but it might lead to constipation, headaches, high blood pressure and muscle cramps. Research from the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) shows that adequate magnesium can also reduce the risk of hearing loss as one grows older (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 2014).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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