Drugs work in a variety of ways, but almost all will impact our livers. What this means is that stores of antioxidant vitamins and compounds will be used to break them down.
Additionally, medications can block certain mineral-dependent reactions in the body, causing a greater need for these nutrients. Or they can speed up the passage of vitamins through the body, giving the digestive system less time to absorb them.
If used correctly, the pill is 99 per cent effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies. But oral contraceptives can also rob you of stores of vital nutrients and minerals – mainly B vitamins and folic acid.
B vitamins are known as the “stress vitamins”, so a deficiency could leave you feeling tired. More importantly, if a woman is aiming to become pregnant when she stops taking the pill, folic acid is important for preventing birth defects.
Many of us take supplements to lower our cholesterol levels (especially those over 45). These can however also stop other processes, including the manufacture of an important enzyme called co-Q10, low levels of which are associated with tiredness and fatigue.
Vitamins and minerals need a reasonable amount of time to be absorbed during their journey through the body. In general, anything which speeds up this process, from diuretics like caffeine, to a bout of travellers’ diarrhoea will lower absorption.
According to research, some laxatives can interfere with the uptake of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as calcium.