The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Cardiovascular Medications


Aug 14
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We first discovered this phenomenon in a health newsletter when the writer pointed out that statistically, people on cardiovascular medicines, specifically blood pressure medicines, are more likely to develop congestive heart failure than those not taking these drugs. The writer pointed to statistics that had no reference and so we had to go and do our own research to verify what this guy was promulgating.

We found two books, one of them we loaned out and never saw again. The other is called, The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs. It is from this wonderful book (you can get your own copy from our affiliate link at AbeBooks) where we are getting the information for this article. After each bit we’ve appropriated will be a page number.

Statin Drugs

There is no way on earth you could get me to take a statin drug. Lowering cholesterol by a drug is ludicrous. The concept of high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia did not exist until someone developed a drug to lower cholesterol. The lipid hypothesis is a joke. It’s painful to even consider it. It’s never even been verified without cherry picking.

One of the great ironies is that cholesterol is anti-inflammatory and the main cause of heart disease is inflammation.

And finally, here’s something we’ve pointed out regularly: statins won’t prevent heart disease or heart attacks.

So why are they prescribed? Well, considering we have money based medicine, it must be for the profits. Our adviser, Dr Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD won’t call it fraud, but we will. This is a multi-billion dollar fraud.

And if you don’t know, you should know that statin drugs sometimes come with warnings that you must supplement with CoQ10 (or Ubiquinol) when you are on them because statins lower your CoQ10 levels. [Harvard Health Publishing]

We point out Harvard’s article because it admits that statin lowers CoQ10 levels, but says that supplementing with CoQ10 doesn’t solve the muscle problems associated with statin drugs. The studies are few, the rigor and motivation to study this hardly exists. All I know is that when people tell me I must lower my cholesterol levels I laugh at them. At my age (over 65) a total cholesterol level of 230 -250 is just fine. I’ll live longer than anyone at my age with shiny new cholesterol levels below 100.

ACE Inhibitors

For our kidneys to function properly, the blood must flow freely through the kidneys. This blood flow is called “renal perfusion.” If it is not flowing through powerfully enough, the kidneys release renin into the blood stream, which constricts the blood vessels speeding up blood flow, like bending a hose to speed up the water flow to spray your neighbors at their barbecue.

Renin, angiotensin, and aldosterone exist within a constant flux trying to keep the blood flowing powerfully enough for renal perfusion, and yet not cause the damage due to high blood pressure. When they get out of whack, and hypertension becomes dangerous, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are prescribed.

Now consider this. Most physicians do not know much about this interplay beyond a very simplistic grasp of the kidneys releasing too much of something that causes high blood pressure, and they have been taught to tell you “to take this and we’ll put a stop to that.” Heck, the PhDs hardly grasp it all. It is very complex. And nobody will ever ask what causes it to get out of whack in the first place because, in medicine, the big question is how to fix something, and not how did it get this way. Ask anyone who’s been through medical school.

Doctors all know that drug therapy is needed at this point and you’re prescribed an ACE Inhibitor. And they’re the sixth biggest money maker (at least in the year 2000) in America, with 83.5 million prescriptions for them being written in 1998, adding up to more than $2.6 billion in sales. [60]

And taking an ACE Inhibitor will deplete your zinc.

Zinc is important to your immune system. Lacking in zinc can lead to insulin resistance, lost of taste and smell, infertility, and sexual dysfunction. [60]


Coming in one place behind ACE Inhibitors with 71.9 million prescriptions, this one definitely depletes CoQ10.

Beta-Blockers basically block the effects of adrenaline (also called epinephrine), a hormone. When epinephrine is release, everything speeds up. It’s the fight or flight hormone, and it’s really not prescribed until all other drug routes (diuretics, for one) haven’t worked. And they’re often prescribed together with diuretics, ACE Inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers.

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant and one of its jobs is to keep our LDL cholesterol from oxidation. When cholesterol oxidizes it eventually becomes calcified and there you have cardiovascular disease.

And CoQ10 has one of the most important jobs in our bodies: generating energy in our mitochondria within each and every cell in our body. Since the heart is a muscle and muscles require energy, lack of CoQ10 is thought to be one of the causes of CHF (congestive heart failure). So again, we think back on that newsletter from years ago that told us this, the statistics that tell us this, and here we are again hearing it: blood pressure medicines can lead to CHF. [60]

And we talk about our mitochondria in our article: Is this the NEW Vitamin — The Energy Pill? It seems that when we get older, our mitochondria get worn out and oftentimes die. Long story short, PQQ is needed to keep these little factories running properly and CoQ10 (or it’s bigger, smarter brother Ubiquinol) are needed as the fuel that feeds that factor.

Beta-blockers also deplete melatonin by inhibiting the synthesis and release of it. And melatonin is an important hormone and antioxidant. Without it your sleep can get disturbed; insomnia is a possibility and even depression can occur. The authors of The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs also point to studies showing that low levels of melatonin can increase your chances of breast cancer. [61]

Calcium Channel Blockers

These are (or were in 1998) the fourth biggest money maker for the pharm industry bringing in over $3.8 billion. And if you think that’s something, wait till you get the bill for even more drugs because these buggers are depleting your potassium, causing hypokalemia which leads to muscle weakness, muscle aches, muscle cramps, and heart palpitations (irregular heartbeats). Plus if you’ve been paying attention to our articles on salt and Celtic Sea Salt in particular, you know that salt is not the culprit behind high blood pressure, but a sodium/potassium imbalance. And if your potassium is missing from the equation, your doctor is going to take you off salt to prevent hypertension.

We’ve posted two pages here on potassium, Electrolytes, and Beet Juice.

Digoxin (linked to WebMD)

If you follow the link, you will read:

Digoxin is used to treat heart failure, usually along with other medications. It is also used to treat certain types of irregular heartbeat (such as chronic atrial fibrillation). Treating heart failure may help maintain your ability to walk and exercise and may improve the strength of your heart. Treating an irregular heartbeat can decrease the risk for blood clots, an effect that may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Digoxin belongs to a class of medications called cardiac glycosides. It works by affecting certain minerals (sodium and potassium) inside heart cells. This reduces strain on the heart and helps it maintain a normal, steady, and strong heartbeat.


Note that “It works by affecting certain minerals (sodium and potassium) . . . .”

It sure does affect certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, and a very important vitamin, thiamine, or B1.

As we age, a lack of calcium causes osteoporosis and osteopenia, plus the following we found at MedicalNewsToday:

  • Muscle problems, cramps, aches, spasms.
  • Numbness in hands, feet, arms, legs, and even around the mouth.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Insomnia, sleeplessness, lack of energy, lethargy.
  • Skin and nail issues; dry, itchy skin, eczema; dry, broken, brittle nails. Sometimes even alopecia, a condition in which your hair falls out in patches.
  • Painful PMS.
  • Dental problems.
  • Depression has been reported, but studies seem to be lacking.

If you were to ask me what’s the most important supplement to take for your heart, I would have to say magnesium.

From our article Nutrients and Supplements for Preventing and Reversing Cardiovascular Disease:

Magnesium dilates blood vessels, aids in the absorption of potassium into cells (to prevent heart arrhythmia—irregular heart beat), acts as an anticoagulant (blood thinner), and stops platelet aggregation that can lead to clotting. It has been shown to be beneficial in decreasing coronary artery disease, sudden cardiac death, ventricular tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, angina and hypertension as well as mitral valve prolapse.

There is a lot of debate over the best form of magnesium, but you’ll have all your bases covered if you take Swanson’s Triple Magnesium Complex.

Magnesium warning: excessive dosage (500 or more per day) can cause diarrhea, which will flush the bowel and cause the body to flush needed minerals and vitamins.

Is it good to know that the drug that is supposed to be treating heart failure is contributing to heart failure? Because a lack of magnesium can lead to heart failure. Additionally, at Healthline, we found the following symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:

  • Muscle twitches, tremors, and cramps.
  • Serious deficiency can cause seizures/convulsions.
  • Mental disorders from apathy, to mental numbness and lack of emotion.
  • Osteoporosis (though admittedly this is caused by numerous factors, including calcium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, vitamin K deficiency, and a deficiency of exercise).
  • Fatigue and Muscle Weakness.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Asthma (in fact magnesium levels tend to be lower in people with asthma).
  • Irregular Heartbeat (isn’t this the reason your doctor prescribed Digoxin?)

Phosphorous deficiency is rare, but when it happens, you’ll find yourself urinating a lot, possibly a bit of anxiety and depression, not to mention nervousness, and skeletal problems because your bones contain quite a bit of it, and in fact your bones store spare phosphorous just in case you need it.

Thiamine deficiency has been studied for a long time. It’s a well known fact that heavy drinkers suffer from a deficiency of thiamine (B1). But as we age, we seem to suffer from it too. Our uptake just isn’t what it used to be.

From Healthline, we found the following symptoms of a B1 deficiency:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Reduced reflex time.
  • Tingling sensation in arms, and legs. In rats they’ve found peripheral nerve damage.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Changes in heart rate.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Delirium.

Another great irony is these are also quite a few symptoms of being drunk.

But I think what you really want to get out of this is that one physician referred to Congestive Heart Failure as beriberi of the heart. And what deficiency causes beriberi? Thiamine/B1.

So that guy wasn’t too far off.

Clonidine and Methyldopa

These are called “centrally acting anti-hypertensive agents, because they affect the alpha-adrenergic receptors (that control heart, lung, and arterial function) and the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the body and controls all those things we don’t have to worry about because they are taken care of automatically (the autonomic nervous system). [63]

If you run to WebMD and look these up, their side effects are about the same: dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, headaches, and weakness.

But what they won’t tell you is that they both deplete your coenzyme Q10 . . . which leads to some of those symptoms, especially muscle weakness. And since your heart is a very important muscle, it contributes to a weak heart.

We’ve talked about CoQ10 deficiency above if you want to go back and check it out.

Hydralazine-Containing Vasodilators

Now this is interesting, so pay attention.

These create a CoQ10 deficiency, which we’ve spent enough time on already. So what we want to point out here is that they also create a B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine. It is an essential, water soluble vitamin that serves as a coenzyme in over 100 enzymatic reactions in the metabolism of amino acids, glucose, and lipids (fats). Let me show you a few things it does.

Vitamin B6 converts the amino acid tryptophan into something I know you’ve all heard of: serotonin. A deficiency in serotonin will produce depression and everything that goes with it: sleeplessness, insomnia, restless sleep. Why the sleep connection? When you are not producing serotonin, you’re also not producing melatonin.

And finally, you can run to the Merck Manual online and read about Vitamin B6 deficiency, but it will never tell you the following:

Vitamin B6 is “one of the” B vitamins needed to metabolize homocysteine, which is a toxic metabolite (produced by metabolism) that attacks our arteries causing atherosclerosis, or CVD (cardiovascular disease).

When you list out all the symptoms [From the Merck Manual] of a B6 deficiency, such as ” peripheral neuropathy and a pellagra-like syndrome, with seborrheic dermatitis, glossitis, and cheilosis, and, in adults, can cause depression, confusion, EEG abnormalities, and seizures. . . .” at some point it should hit you that taking a heart drug that causes CVD just seems a bit odd.

In medicine they like to run a cost/benefit analysis when prescribing drugs. They weigh the costs (side effects) against the benefits and hopefully the benefits will outweigh the costs. It doesn’t always happen that way, because sometimes the cost of modern, intervention medicine is death.

Our point is, if physicians were trained in nutrition and knew the nutritional costs of their prescriptions, they might be better able to 1. spot the symptoms of a deficiency in time, and 2. prescribe nutritional therapies to counter the damage created by their drugs. Instead, however, they prescribe more drugs to counter the side effects of the drugs they’ve already prescribed.

I watched my mother reading over the materials she brought home from the hospital once. They gave her eight drugs. Three of them were prescribed specifically to counter the side effects of the other five. And if you’ve read our article on the History of Quackery, you will know at this point that there’s never been a randomized controlled trial on any eight drugs. We love medicine because it’s so sciencey. But science flies out the window when we start mixing and matching and adding in this one and that one . . . there are no studies — no science behind this practice. It is quackery.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Loop Diuretics

Diuretics (also called “water pills) are designed to expel water and salt via your bladder and naughty bits (I love Monty Python).

Keep in mind that anything that causes you to “flush” liquids is going to take your electrolytes, minerals, and water soluble vitamins with. All that good stuff is going into the toilet.

Loop diuretics are prescribed to treat edema (of course, you’re full of fluids) and hypertension. The edema in this case is a side effect of congestive heart failure or chronic kidney disease.

They’re called “loop” because the affect Loop of Henle in the kidneys.

Loop diuretics cause the depletion of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B1, B6, vitamin C, sodium, and zinc. [65]

We’ve discussed these, so let’s move on. But keep in mind that Linus Pauling and his buddy Matthias Rath MD discovered that a lack of vitamin C caused a pre-scurvy condition of pitting in the arteries which leads to Cardiovascular Disease and wrote it all up in a paper called: A Unified Theory of Human Cardiovascular Disease Leading the Way to the Abolition of This Disease as a Cause for Human Mortality.

Potassium-Sparing Diuretics

As you can guess, these diuretics flush you without the loss of potassium. What they do flush besides water and sodium, are calcium, folic acid, and zinc.

Folic acid is another vitamin that handles homocysteine, but it does so much more. And if depleted, especially in women, it’s lack can cause a number of health problems. [69, 70]

  • Disruption of DNA metabolism producing abnormal cells.
  • Abnormal red blood cells, leukocytes, and epithelial cells of the stomach, intestines, vagina, and cervix.
  • Anemia
  • Birth defects.
  • Cervical dysplasia.
  • Elevated homocysteine.
  • Insomnia.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Increase infection risk (especially accompanied by depleted zinc).
  • Headaches.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Hair loss.
  • Anorexia.
  • Is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Thiazide Diuretics

These diuretics deplete CoQ10, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc. [71]

That’s it. The book is intensive and very thorough and I truly recommend you go out and find a copy. Our affiliate program with AbeBooks is one of my favorites because they always have the hard to find book. Here’s your link: The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs