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Medication

Medication (1)

Many people, even those who are in good health and eat a balanced, robust and healthy diet, take nutritional supplements. In fact, vitamins, minerals, and herbs are the most widely used over-the-counter products among people of every age and every lifestyle. Many older adults take nutritional supplements and they tend not to inform their physician (or even other family members) they are doing so. Mixing certain nutritional supplements with prescription medicines can result in a dangerous interaction and seniors could be putting their health—or even their life—at risk: Many nutritional supplements alter the way prescription medications work in the body. This can lead to a dangerous situation in which medications do not work as they should for a given medical condition and can result in a life-threatening interaction.

Every physiological process in the body relies upon vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other compounds that facilitate processes necessary to maintain your physical and emotional health. For people of all ages who eat a variety of healthy foods most of the time, we tend to get the nutrients we need. As we age, however, our bodies change in every respect.

Consequently, we may not digest food as well, can develop food intolerances, may take medications that affect nutrient absorption, and a variety of other factors can affect how effectively nutrients are getting to the places where the body most needs them. This can prompt senior citizens to take nutritional (dietary) supplements purchased over-the-counter.

4 Ways Nutritional Supplements can Interact with Prescription Medication

Taking nutritional supplements is not risk-free:  If you take prescription medications for health concerns such as menopause, a heart condition, cholesterol management, high blood pressure, cognitive decline to name a few, the dietary supplements you take could be changing the way your prescription medicines work inside your body. Some of these interactions can include:

  1. Decreasing the effectiveness of a medication’s ability to treat a health condition
  2. Increasing the potency of a prescription beyond what is medically safe for your condition
  3. Altering how the body breaks down a medicine, resulting in too much oof the medicine circulating in the bloodstream and target tissues
  4. Altering how a medicine is excreted by the body, which also changes potency

Many types of supplements can have these effects, depending upon the medication you are taking. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, and enzymes/enzymatic formulas. The nutritional supplement can be in a capsule, tablet, or a tea and still be a risk for interaction with prescription medication. 

Information to Give Your Doctor about Supplements You are Taking

It is so important for your doctor to know about all supplements you are taking. Tell the doctor:

  • Name of the supplement
  • How much you take
  • How often you take it
  • The form you take it in
  • Where you purchased it, if you recall that information

Common Nutritional Supplements that Interact with Prescription Meds

The following nutritional supplements* can interact with prescription medications and alter how they work in the body:

  • Concentrated garlic extract 
  • Ginseng
  • Goldenseal
  • Kava
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Iron and multivitamin/mineral supplements containing iron
  • Grapefruit extract and juice

*This is not a complete list.

Tips for Preventing a Nutritional Supplement & Prescription Drug Interaction

To prevent dangers reactions from taking supplements with prescription drugs, follow these tips:

  1. Tell all of your doctors about every medicine and supplement you take. Bring a list to your appointments.
  2. When you are prescribed a new medicine, ask your doctor these questions:
  • How will the drug work in my body?
  • Can I take this with the other medicines I am using?
  • Should I avoid certain foods, beverages, supplements, or other products?
  • Are there any drug reaction or interaction signs I should know about?
  1. Use a drug interaction checker. Visit: drugs.com or rxlist.com to quickly identify if any interaction warnings appear for products you are taking. Always talk with your doctor before making any changes. 
  2. Read all labels on any over-the-counter and prescription medicines –look for information about drug interactions. 
  3. Where possible, purchase nutritional supplements from an integrative or functional medicine physician if your own doctor is not experienced in this area. 
  4. Use one pharmacy for all of your prescriptions. This keeps a complete record of your medications in one place and makes it easier to track prescriptions ordered by different doctors. 

If you experience a medication interaction while also taking an nutritional supplement, report it using this form and report it to your physician.

Exceptional, High-Level Care for Senior Living 

At Everbrook Senior Living, our exceptionally well-trained professional staff are attentive to the various medications, supplemental nutrition support, and special dietary and lifestyle needs of every one of our residents. Whether you are living with us independently or are a part of our assisted living or memory care community, your health and wellbeing is our staff’s top priority. When you, or a loved one, are ready to move to a transitional care community rich with exceptional amenities, world-class medical expertise, and a devoted staff, schedule your visit with Everbrook Senior Living.

Sources

Food and Drug Administration

National Council on Patient Information and Education

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Council for Responsible Nutrition

The Dana Foundation: Gateway to Responsible Information about the Brain. “What is ‘Healthy’ Cognitive Aging?” 

http://www.dana.org/News/What_is_‘Healthy__Cognitive_Aging_/ 

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