Can I Take Health Supplements While on Medications or Treatments for an Existing Medical Condition?

Combining dietary supplements with medications can have dangerous effects. Learn more about how supplements can interact with medications and treatments.

Can I Take Health Supplements While on Medications or Treatments for an Existing Medical Condition?

Combining dietary supplements and medications can have dangerous and even fatal effects. Dietary supplements are products manufactured to provide the body with the nutrients it lacks, according to Walls. These supplements can interfere with the prescription medications you're taking, either weakening them or making them more powerful. It is important to tell your doctor if you are using these supplements together with prescription medications so that they can monitor you closely.

For people with cardiovascular disease who don't eat fish regularly, taking a fish oil supplement is reasonable. Despite their iconic status, there is no evidence that multivitamins improve health and well-being or prevent disease. The mission of SAMHSA is to lead public health and service delivery initiatives that promote mental health, prevent substance abuse, and provide treatment and support to promote recovery, while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes. Popular supplements include vitamins D and B12; minerals such as calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products such as glucosamine, probiotics and fish oils.

So even if you take supplements, be sure to eat well, exercise regularly, and work with your doctor to keep your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar under control. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are the best sources of fiber, but many people need supplements to meet these goals. Pharmacists should recommend folic acid supplementation to patients who are prescribed methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, especially if there are adverse effects or toxicities such as abnormalities in blood cell counts and varying degrees of mucositis and diarrhea. In addition, pharmacists should encourage software providers and employers to provide fields in their profile systems for over-the-counter drugs and supplements, as these products can affect care and cause easily avoidable drug interactions that could put the patient at risk of poor outcomes or adverse effects.

Before a prescription or over-the-counter drug can be sold in the United States, the manufacturer must submit data that supports its safety and effectiveness. The FDA is the federal agency that oversees both supplements and drugs, but the FDA regulations for dietary supplements are different from those for prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Also, be careful when giving supplements to a child unless recommended by your healthcare provider.