It may come as a surprise to some people, but adding more supplements to your diet when you already take prescription medications may do more harm to your health than good.
Some combinations you should be particularly careful with:
- Fish Oil: The omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy, but for some people, fish oil capsules can elevate the risk of excessive bleeding when combined with a common anti-coagulant, Warfarin, (A.K.A. Coumadin and Jantoven). Warfarin is frequently prescribed to reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke.
- Ginko Biloba: With it’s reported ability to support memory and cognitive function by increasing blood flow in the brain, Ginko Biloba is a popular supplement. But, as with Fish Oil, be careful when taking when you are prescribed Warfarin. This supplement also increases your chance of internal bleeding if you are on the popular blood thinner.
- St. John’s Wort: This herbal supplement is intended to help those with mild depression, but it is not intended to be taken if you are already on a prescription anti-depressant like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. If you mix the herbal supplement with any of these drugs, you are at risk for a dangerous condition called serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome can cause diarrhea and shivering in its milder forms, but it can escalate to mental confusion, fever and seizures and can even prove fatal.
- Vitamin D Supplements: taking water pills), drugs that include hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), chlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, indapamide and metolazone, used to treat hypertension and edema; combining them with vitamin D supplements can lead to high calcium levels and possible kidney stones, weak bones and cognitive problems.
- Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or Naproxen (Aleve) can have some scary consequences if you are on a prescription antidepressant. A Korean study published in July 2015 found that combining them and any class of antidepressant can increase your risk of intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the skull). In some people, this type of bleeding can lead to permanent brain damage and death.
- If you take any type of prescription nitrate for a heart issue, be aware of potential risk of natural erectile dysfunction supplements which often contain ginseng, L-arginine, tribulus, yohimbine and even horny goat weed. One study found that more than 80 percent carry traces of phosphodiesterase-5-inhibitors (PDE5Is), the active ingredient in drugs like Viagra and Cialis, which commercials say can cause a potentially fatal drop in blood pressure.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can react negatively with blood pressure mediations, with blood thinners or daily aspirin intake, and can cause your blood sugar to drop too low.
- Niacin (B3) can cause a spike in blood sugar, so be careful if you’re diabetic, and can cause liver damage if you are taking cholesterol lowering medications.
As with anything you take while under a doctor’s care, it’s worth at least a phone call to make sure you aren’t adding anything to your daily routine that can cause harm to your health. Hmmm
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