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Drug Induced Nutrient Depletions: Asthma Medications

In part seven, we continue our exploration of the nutrients that are depleted when taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Drug induced nutrient depletions (DIND) occur when medications cause nutrients to be depleted from our bodies. This has been a multi-part series in which I focused on a different drug class each week. In previous weeks, we focused on the nutrients depleted from the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, anti-hyperlipidemics, pain relievers, acid suppressing agents, and oral hypoglycemics. This week for part seven, we will focus on the nutrients that can be depleted by asthma medications.

In the United States, approximately 1 in 12 people (25 million) have asthma (1). Asthma is especially prevalent in the northeastern and central parts of the country (1). Asthma is a health condition that involves the lungs wherein the airways narrow, swell and produce extra mucus (2). Having asthma can make it difficult to breath and can elicit coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath (2).

Common asthma triggers include: Allergens (mold, dust, pets, pollens), colds and viral infections, exercise, GERD, medications, foods (food intolerances, sulfites, food additives, dairy), emotional anxiety, air pollutants (tobacco smoke, wood smoke, chemicals, ozone), occupational exposures (vapors, dust, gases, fumes), and other strong odors (perfume, paint, cleaners).

Common medications include bronchodilators, corticosteroids, beta-2 adrenergic receptor agonists and other anti-inflammatory medications. If you take medications for asthma, talk to your health care provider or nutritionist about whether supplementation is needed (see below for potential depleted nutrients).

Below, you will find information on the amount of each nutrient you may need each day as a supplement, as well as some of the best sources of food for each.

Folic Acid

How much you may need per day if you use a supplement: 400-800 mcg (4)

Good Food Sources: Vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs, seafood, and grains, spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and brussel sprouts (5)


How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 50-200 mg (4)

Good Food Sources: Oysters, beef, crab, fortified breakfast cereals, lobster, pork, baked beans, cheese, cashews, chicken, peas, flounder, almonds, chickpeas, kidney beans (5)

Vitamin D

How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 400 IU (4)

Good Food Sources: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, eel, fortified milk, cod liver oil, sword fish, tuna, fortified orange juice (4,5)


How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 1,200 mg (4)

Good Food Sources: Milk, dried figs, cheese, yogurt tofu, sardines, dairy alternatives, fortified cereal, salmon, dark leafy greens (4,5)


How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 100-300 mg (4)

Good Food Sources: dried figs, California avocado, papaya, banana, dates, citrus fruits, milk, yogurt, nuts, beef, chicken, fish, potatoes (with skins) (4,5)

Vitamin C

How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 250-1500 mg (4)

Good Food Sources: Red peppers, orange juice, citrus fruit, green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomato juice, brussel sprouts, spinach, cauliflower (4,5)

Vitamin A

How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 5,000 IU (4)

Good Food Sources: Beef, liver, chicken, milk, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, red peppers, cantaloupe, cheddar cheese, fortified cereal (4,5)


How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 500-1000 mg (4)

Good Food Sources: Almonds, spinach, cashews and other nuts, fortified cereals, soy milk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, avocado, potato, yogurt, brown rice, yogurt, banana, salmon, milk, animal products, broccoli (5)

Vitamin K

How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 60-80 mcg (4)

Good Food Sources: kale, broccoli, parsley, spinach, swiss chard, brussels sprouts, cabbage, dark leafy greens (4,5)

Vitamin B6

How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 50-100 mg (4)

Good Food Sources: Chick peas, beef liver, tuna, salmon, chicken, fortified breakfast cereals, banana, bulgur, squash, nuts, raisins, tofu, watermelon (5)


How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 20-100 mcg (4)

Good Food Sources: Brazil nuts, tuna, beef liver, turkey breast, chicken, eggs, oatmeal, spinach, baked beans, whole wheat bread, cottage cheese (4)


How much you need per day if you use a supplement: 1-3 mg (4)

*Individual needs may vary. Please speak with your health care provider or nutritionist for your personalized recommendations.

Suggestions for Helping to Prevent Asthma Attacks (3)

  • Eliminate potential triggers and allergens

  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake

  • Increase omega 3 fatty acids (flaxseed, cold-water fish, nuts, greens)

  • Exercise

  • Supplement with antioxidants (C, D, E, B-complex, selenium)

  • Try mind-body therapies (relaxation, visualization, mediation, yoga)

  • Reduce stress

  • Take your medications as directed by your health care provider

About the Author: Leanne DiMaio earned her Master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College in December 2017. She is currently working on her Doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition degree at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Leanne is passionate about helping others achieve their optimal state of health and wellness. She is currently earning clinical hours toward the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential under Kim Ross's supervision.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Virtal Signs - Asthma in the US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published 2018. Accessed July 15, 2018.

2. Mayo Clinic. Asthma - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published 2018. Accessed July 15, 2018.

3. Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2018.

4. Vagnini F, Fox B. The Side Effects Bible. New York: Broadway Books; 2005.

5. United States Department of Agriculture. Vitamins and Minerals | Food and Nutrition Information Center. 2018. Available at: Accessed June 3, 2018.

Image used under Creative Commons License Laws CCO from

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