If you take natural dietary supplements 💊 to ease symptoms of certain conditions, or simply to support your diet, then you probably have done quite a lot of research to find the best option for you.
But, have you ever thought about whether there is any danger 🚫 in mixing medications and dietary supplements? Just because these supplements can be bought without a prescription doesn’t mean there isn’t some risk in taking them with certain prescription medications.
To make sure your medicine, vitamin, and supplement lineup is safe, you need to know how they can interact 🧪
Yes, you could be changing the way medicines or supplements you take are working inside your body.
How do supplements work in the body? 🤔
Ideally, you’re eating a variety of nutritious foods to nourish your body. But if this process is compromised, supplements are a key point📍
Dietary supplements are manufactured products intended to provide your body with the nutrients it’s lacking.
However, there is a potential drawback. Your prescription medications may be affected by the supplements you're taking 😦. Chemical interactions have the potential to be dangerous, or even life-threatening. They can either weaken and make your meds less effective 📉, or they can make your prescriptions stronger 📈
When medicines and supplements combine with the foods and alcoholic beverages we consume, even more changes can occur.
What can happen when medicines and supplements interact?
A drug-nutrient interaction ⚡ is a reaction between medicine and one or more nutrients (found in supplements).
And as we mentioned before, when a medicine interacts with a nutrient, it can keep the medicine from working properly 🛑. It can also decrease or increase the amount of the nutrient in your body.
You will not get the full impact of the medicine if your body cannot absorb as much of it as it should. On the other hand, if your body absorbs too much of the medicine, it may cause it to have an overpowering effect. Similarly, it can influence how quickly your body processes or eliminates a medicine.
Prescription drugs and supplements can interact with a variety of substances. Here are some examples:
- Vitamins and minerals. Some antibiotics may be ineffective if you use iron supplements.
- St. John’s wort. This supplement helps your body process drugs more quickly. Birth control pills, as well as treatments for depression, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and organ transplant recipients, lose their effectiveness as a result of this.
- Ginkgo biloba. This herbal supplement thins the blood. It could be problematic if you're on a prescription blood thinner like warfarin. Aspirin and vitamin E also act as blood thinners and a combination of any of them could lead to stroke or internal bleeding.
- Grapefruit juice. Because this drink prevents the body from breaking down some medicines, they may stay in your body longer than they should.
- Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages of all kinds can interact with over 150 different drugs. When coupled with sedatives, sleeping drugs, and prescription medicines, alcohol decreases breathing and can be deadly.
If you're taking these supplements together with prescription medications, tell your doctor, so you can be constantly monitored.
Things to keep in mind 👀
While some vitamins and supplements can be good for you, others may be harmful.
To prevent negative reactions from taking supplements, follow these tips:
- Inform all of your doctors about any medications or supplements you are taking.
- Changes in your health, such as a recent illness, should be reported to your doctor.
- When you get a new prescription, ask your doctor these questions:
Can I take this together with my other medications? / Should I stay away from specific meals, beverages, or other items? / What signs of drug interactions should I be aware of? / What effect will the medicine have on my body?
- Make use of a drug interaction finder such as drugs.com or rxlist.com to learn about any potential interactions between them.
- Before making any changes, consult your doctor if any interaction warnings occur.
- Read the labels on all of your over-the-counter and prescription medications.