Might Supplements I Take Interact With My Prescription Meds?

Might Supplements I Take Interact With My Prescription Medications?
Might Supplements I Take Interact With My Prescription Medications?

Just because many supplements are derived from natural sources doesn’t mean they can’t interact with drugs. Find out how to minimize the risk.

If you’re like me, you are probably taking one or more dietary supplements on a daily basis. A dietary supplement can be a vitamin, mineral, herb or other similar substance. I take a daily multivitamin, as well as calcium, magnesium, folic acid and zinc supplements. Occasionally, I’ll take a B12 sublingual tablet. I feel I need to take these to supplement my diet, especially when I’m counting calories or because I’m just not eating right.

Whether you are taking vitamins and minerals or “natural” herbal products, you and I are part of the majority of adult Americans who regularly take dietary supplements. Recent studies show that adult Americans are taking more supplements than ever before. This is especially true among older adults, of whom 70% take at least one dietary supplement.

These non-prescription dietary supplements may or may not produce therapeutic results. But even supplements that do not have a documented pharmacologic action can affect the absorption and metabolism of prescription drugs. That’s where some of the problems can begin when taking supplements along with your prescription medications.

1,500 Documented Interactions Between Supplements and Prescription Meds

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. There are nearly 1,500 documented interactions between dietary supplements and various prescription medications. These interactions involved some sort of combination of over 500 different medicines and several hundred different herbal products or other vitamins.

The combination of certain dietary supplements and prescription drugs can have dangerous or even life-threatening effects. It’s important to remember that just because a supplement is labeled as “natural,” that doesn’t mean it is safe to take with a prescription medication. There is often incomplete knowledge regarding interactions between dietary products and prescription drugs, especially among patients with chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease.

It’s unpredictable if someone will experience an adverse reaction between a supplement they are taking and a prescription drug. One study reported some patients who were taking herbal products (such as cannabis, ginseng and St. John’s wort) experienced a worsening of their depression even though they were already taking prescription antidepressants. Another reported a patient taking a statin drug experiencing muscle pain when drinking three cups of green tea a day. There are clinically significant interactions in patients taking blood thinners and using several different types of herbal supplements. So how can you protect yourself from these potentially hazardous interactions?

How to Protect Yourself From Vitamins / Drug Interactions

You are at greater risk if you take the listed dietary products with one of the following types of medication:

• Anticoagulants or blood thinners: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinone), dong quai, garlic, ginkgo biloba, green tea, St. John’s wort and vitamin E

• Cardiovascular and heart medications: CoQ10, danshen, ginkgo biloba, hawthorn, licorice root and St. John’s wort

• Diabetes medications: niacin (vitamin B3), St. John’s wort, fish oils, magnesium, ginger and cinnamon

• Psychiatric or antidepressant medications: ginseng, kava, St. John’s wort, ginkgo biloba, echinacea, ephedra (banned in the US), chasteberry

• HIV medications: echinacea, garlic, ginseng, milk thistle, vitamin C and St. John’s wort

These are just some of the possible interactions between vitamins and prescription medications. It’s always best to ask your doctor or pharmacist about taking any supplement with the prescription medications you take.

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

Was This Article Helpful?

Show Comments (3)
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I suffer with vertigo, I take melclizine, can I take a liquid herb on the outer side of my ear along with the medicine


good morning I’m a diabetic
is ok to take zinc and vitamin C with my meds also my blood pressure meds

Martin Epperly

My Rx’s include Levothyroxin, Amlodipine Besylate, Flecainide Acetate, Eliquis, and Atorvastatin. Are there specific supplements I should avoid, especially Vitamins A, C, & D3, Zinc, Selenium, or NAC?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x