March 1, 2023
Dietary supplements are vitamins or minerals found in food or produced by the body that are necessary for our cells to function. In the case of many herbal products, they may be a natural form of medicine.
In some cases, there are studies evaluating possible drug/supplement interactions, but unfortunately there are not studies looking at all possible drug/supplement interactions. Additionally, there are studies suggesting that patients taking certain prescription medications will benefit from certain supplements. For example, patients on statins often need to supplement with CoQ10, patients taking metformin are frequently deficient in vitamin B12, and patients on antibiotics often need to take a probiotic.
If you take prescription medications, it is always best to check with your pharmacist or physician before adding a supplement to your regimen. Your provider may not always have an answer whether the combination is safe due to the lack of studies examining safety, but they can often advise on known or suspected contradictions based on the nature of the supplement. For example, if the supplement is something you could probably get from your diet, the risk of a drug interaction is lower than if the supplement is an herbal product used to treat the same condition as the prescription product you already take.
Ultimately, for your own safety, you should treat anything you put into your body with the same level of precaution that you would take before starting a new prescription medication. Make sure you know what you are taking, why you are taking it, and adverse reactions that you should watch for. Do not assume that because something is not prescription it cannot cause harm.
The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent that of AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation. The content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat any health condition and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health professional.