We hear a lot about interactions between various prescription medications or between those drugs and over-the-counter medicines. However, many Floridians don't consider the possible negative effects of taking dietary supplements, including vitamins and minerals, while on prescription meds. According to a 2005 to 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of respondents reported taking at least one dietary supplement along with a prescription medication.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, taking dietary supplements while also taking prescription meds can be dangerous and even fatal. In some cases, supplements, even so-called "natural" or herbal ones like St. John's Wort, can lessen the effect of the medication. In other cases, supplements can increase the medication's potency.
Because of the way they can impact the body's absorption and metabolism of the medication, a person could end up getting too much or too little of the prescribed drug. This can be particularly true for children. They can also cause changes to blood pressure or heart rate or bring about internal bleeding and possibly even a stroke.
The FDA recommends that people tell their health care professional what supplements they are taking, how much and how often, just as they tell them what medications they are taking. If you are going to be undergoing surgery, it is particularly important to check with your doctor to make sure that none of the surgery-related drugs you will be taking will interact adversely with your supplements. If you are pregnant, breast-feeding or are ill, it's also essential to ask your doctor if you need to change or stop taking any of your medications, including supplements.
The FDA can take action against supplement manufacturers whose products are unsafe or are marketed in a misleading or false way, such as if they claim to prevent or cure illnesses. However, the agency does not monitor the effectiveness of supplements. If you believe that a dietary supplement has caused harm or injury, you may have a case against the manufacturer. It's best to get the advice of a personal injury attorney to determine whether the company can be held legally responsible.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health" Oct. 27, 2014