Which Supplements Don’t Go Well with Meds?
A report from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that roughly 80% of women over age 60 take dietary supplements, the same report shows.
AARP’s recent article entitled“6 Supplements That Don’t Always Mix With Prescription Drugs” notes that federal research shows about 34% of survey participants — representing roughly 72 million people in the U.S.— take some kind of dietary supplement, along with a prescription medication. With that in mind, here are six popular supplements and their known effects on some common medications.
- St. John’s Wort. This is derived from a flowering shrub native to Europe and is frequently taken to treat mild to moderate depression or to reduce menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. However, St. John’s Wort has a number of drug interactions and can reduce the potency of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. It can also interfere with omeprazole (Prilosec), alprazolam (Xanax), certain statins and some antihistamines.
- CoQ10. This is an antioxidant produced by our bodies to promote cell growth and maintenance. The levels of it in our body can decrease as we age. However, CoQ10 can also interfere with the ability of blood thinners to do their job, which is to prevent blood clots from forming. As a result, people could have a breakthrough blood clot.
- Turmeric. This is an ancient spice that’s been shown to have many health benefits, from improving memory to lowering inflammation and even decreasing the risk of heart disease. However, it also has anticoagulant effects, so you don’t want to mix turmeric supplements with a blood thinner or even, possibly, aspirin, due to the risk of internal bleeding.
- Probiotics. Full of beneficial bacteria, this is frequently taken to aid digestion and improve gut health. They shouldn’t be taken within two hours of taking an antibiotic, or you could reduce the effectiveness of the prescription medication.
- Vitamin C. This occurs naturally in citrus fruits, tomatoes and other foods. It’s also consumed as a supplement for many reasons, ranging from warding off the common cold to preventing cancer. However, high-dose vitamin C supplements may decrease the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy. It can also interfere with niacin and statins and affect estrogen levels.
- Milk thistle. This is a flowering plant related to daisies and is taken as a supplement to promote liver and heart health. However, it may also lower blood sugar, which could be a worry for a person who’s on diabetes medication.
Speak with your doctor about taking supplements with prescription medications.
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Reference: AARP (April 6, 2022) “6 Supplements That Don’t Always Mix With Prescription Drugs”