Do You Tell Your Doctor About Your Supplements?

Many adults take a variety of daily supplements. Nearly 25% of adults report taking a daily supplement along with a regular medication. Yet, during a check-up, many people don’t think to write supplements on the medication history form. Because some supplements and medications can have dangerous interactions, telling the doctor about all supplements is crucial. Here’s why reporting supplement intake is essential.

center for family medicine Why You Need To Tell Your Doctor What Supplements You Take: Medication Interactions

Mixing medications and supplements

The first point about mixing supplements and medication is that some supplements can reduce certain medications’ effectiveness. For example, St. John’s Wort might decrease the effectiveness of birth control or antidepressants. Depending on the drug, the results can range from uncomfortable to disastrous.

Beware blood thinners

Especially important are any supplements that are considered blood thinners. Gingko biloba, aspirin, and vitamin E all increase bleeding risks. Patients need to let healthcare providers know when taking any of these supplements, as increased bleeding could increase the risks for internal bleeding and stroke.

All-natural is not an all-clear

Some supplements hit the market labeled all-natural. The words all-natural can be comforting for some people. But all-natural is not a clear-all for safety. Even herbal supplements can interact with some medications. To find the most effective supplement, speak with a healthcare provider for recommendations.

Be careful with children

Medication interactions can be especially dangerous in children. Children’s metabolisms are changing, and children of different ages metabolize at different rates. For some children, mixing supplements and medications could be disastrous. Always list all vitamins and supplements when visiting the pediatrician, and only start new vitamins or supplements at the recommendation of a healthcare provider.

Be meticulous before surgery

Especially before surgery, some supplements can increase risks. Don’t take anything that could cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, or bleeding risk. Share all information with the healthcare provider, even down to the daily multivitamin.

Report any changes

Every time a person visits the doctor, update the list of supplements and medications. Some people start taking supplements on a whim and forget to let the doctor know. But this information is crucial for healthcare providers to keep patients safe. Never start a supplement without checking with a healthcare provider. Supplements are an area where patients need to beware too much of a good thing. While many supplements help people fill nutritional gaps, getting too much of a certain vitamin or nutrient can have harmful effects. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.