Dietary supplements contain vitamins, minerals and amino acids which can be really effective, if taken correctly. However, supplement labeling does not always take into consideration what other medicines people consume. Recall that the word “natural” does not always mean “safe” when combined with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Combining dietary supplements, prescriptions and OTC medications can lead to dangerous side effects because the combination changes their potency. Here are a couple dietary supplements that can change the way medications are absorbed and metabolized:
Warfarin is a common blood thinner. Use extra care when using supplements such as Omega-3 fish oils, ginkgo biloba and Vitamin E as these combinations can increase the potential for internal bleeding or strokes.
St. John’s Wort can speed up the breakdown of many drugs which reduces a drug’s effectiveness. Watch out for drug interactions if you take heart disease, depression or birth control medicines.
Garlic, ginseng, Vitamin E, ephedra and fish oils can interfere with anesthesia so be sure to tell your doctor all the supplements you are taking. St. John’s Wort can also interfere with anesthesia during surgery, so mention it to your doctor before a surgical procedure.
Vitamin C and E can reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy.
Write down all the medications and supplements you take on a daily basis and give this list to your doctor at each visit so that your health care provider is aware of your complete medical history. If you would learn more about dietary supplements, visit https://www.fda.gov/food/dietarysupplements/.