Sign In
Nutrient Depletion: The Benefits of Counseling Patients on Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion and Vitamin Supplementation

Nutrient Depletion: The Benefits of Counseling Patients on Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion and Vitamin Supplementation by Elements magazine |

March 15, 2017

Did you know the medications your patients are taking could potentially be harming them?

“A surprising number of the drugs that we dispense as pharmacists have the potential of causing drug-induced nutritional deficiencies,” said Jeff Robins, R.Ph., FAAFRM, ABAAHP, former owner of Essential Wellness Pharmacy in Peoria, Ill., and owner of Optimum Health Solutions, a wellness consulting firm, and Summit Functional Counseling, a consulting firm that creates profitable business models for independent pharmacies.

Robins said the depletion of vital nutrients can cause the body to start breaking down. Fortunately, your independent community pharmacy can help patients on these medications stay healthy by recommending the appropriate vitamins to boost nutrient levels.

As a trusted and accessible health care resource, pharmacists are in an ideal position to counsel patients on prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can cause nutritional deficiencies. “It’s just good medicine,” Robins said. “We know these things happen, so we’re truly caring for our patients.”

And, recommending the appropriate vitamins and supplements can increase your pharmacy’s front-end sales. “It’s a true economic boon to pharmacies to sell these nutrients that their patients absolutely need,” Robins said.

A growing problem

“Drug-induced nutritional deficiencies can happen with the top 200 drugs that we dispense every single day,” Robins said.

The nutrients being depleted are essential in creating all the compounds that our bodies need. “We have to have vitamins as cofactors to make those nutrients for our bodies,” he said.

And OTC medications can contribute to the problem, too.

Acid-blocking drugs are a common class of OTC drugs that deplete a number of nutrients and can be harmful to patients, for example. “We don’t tend to associate disease states with people taking antacids,” Robins said. “But the data is very clear; there’s tons of research showing that it actually happens.”

The benefits of vitamin supplementation

Most health care providers aren’t taught about these potentially serious nutritional deficiencies, which puts pharmacists in a unique position. “We can be the advocates for our patients and really protect their health,” Robins said.

Counseling patients on nutrient depletion can set your pharmacy apart from the competition, because no national chain or big box stores are doing this, Robins said.

“For independent pharmacies, they’re going to set themselves apart and be seen as the drug experts,” he said. “It will deepen and create more trust between the patient and the pharmacy.”

It can also increase the pharmacy’s profitability, especially considering the growing number of patients interested in vitamin supplementation today.

“Every other patient who walks through your door is buying nutrients,” Robins said. “Are they buying them from your pharmacy, and are they buying quality nutrients that are actually helping their health?”

He said that as tough as it is economically for pharmacies these days, it benefits their bottom line to sell patients high quality nutrients and help prevent nutritional deficiencies. “It’s a total win-win,” he said. “You make $2 selling a patient a statin drug, and then you make $15 selling the Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) that his body has to have.”

Robins learned first-hand the benefits of vitamin supplementation by counseling patients in his own pharmacy. “It can help move the pharmacy from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance, where you can pay more to get better employees,” he said. “And, it’s so much fun to take care of your patients that well.”

Learning more

Robins will go into more detail on drug-induced nutrient depletion during his continuing education (CE) session at the 2017 Synergy Conference hosted by PBA Health, Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma (PPOk) and the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association (OPhA) this June in Kansas City, Mo.

Robins said the purpose of the course is for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to get a working understanding of some basic biochemistry, so they feel comfortable talking to their patients about drug-induced nutritional deficiencies. Attendees will also learn how to recommend vitamins and supplements to patients.

He’ll also discuss the systems that are available to help pharmacists identify which vitamins patients should be taking and how to address those needs.

“This is something that can impact your patients’ health and your bottom line within a week,” he said. “You don’t have to go through training; this is stuff that we already know but we forgot as pharmacists.”

Learn more at


Common drug-induced nutritional deficiencies

Here’s a look at some of the most common prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication classes that cause nutritional deficiencies.

  • Statins deplete CoQ10
  • Ace Inhibitors deplete Zinc
  • Beta Blockers deplete CoQ10
  • Biguanides deplete Folic Acid and Vitamin B12
  • Antacids deplete Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium, Chromium and Iron
  • H2 Inhibitors deplete Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Zinc
  • NSAIDS deplete Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Iron and Potassium



Want more tips like this? Join our email list to get weekly pharmacy business tips and advice—right in your inbox.



Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!



Sign up to receive the weekly Elements e-newsletter for bonus business tips and advice.

find out more