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The hidden calories in tablets

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You've read the title and think the topic is a little bitsilly.  Who really cares about thecalories in their medication?  Asurprising number of people onthe internet apparently.  But it wasrandom interest, rather than hyper-concerned netizens, that had me researchingthe topic.

The calorie content of medicines interests clinicians whoput treatment resistant epileptic patients on ketogenic diets wherecarbohydrate intake is carefully controlled. "The carbohydrate content of tablets ... can be difficult to manage forphysicians, nurses and pharmacists" states one journal article.

The calories in medicines come primarily fromexcipients.  Starch and lactose intablets, alcohol and sugar in solutions and gelatine in capsules all containcalories.

In one study, researchers in Canada asked manufacturers forcalorie information relating to 790 different medicines.  The data they collected is for Canadianbrands, but it's fair to assume the figures are also typical of UK medicines.

As you probably thought, the calorie content of tablets istiny.  For example, a 500mg paracetamoltablet contains the grand total of 0.3 calories.  A sugar-coated 400mg ibuprofen tabletcontains 0.5 calories.

Don't be misled into thinking paracetamol is therefore the drugof choice for the weight-conscious, pain-relief seeking patient.  At maximum daily doses the calorie content ofparacetamol is higher at 2.4 calories versus 1.5 calories for ibuprofen.

At a positively waist-bulging 5.9 calories per capsule iscalcium 500mg as Capsan.  Thankfully, it's not available in the UK.

Of course I'm not being serious.  The numbers are negligible.  If you do get a concerned patient, perhaps alittle too fanatical about their New Year's resolution, encourage them to laughtheir concerns off.  They could burn up to 40 calories, or 133paracetamol tablets.

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