One Third of Americans are Mixing Dietary Supplements with Prescription Drugs

Dietary supplements and prescription drugs.. like some relatives, they're at peace until they're forced to share a room.

According to pharmacist, Rob Nelson, "Many of the dietary supplements have to be metabolized by the body and the prescription medications that the person's taking also has to be metabolized by the body."

A new study reveals that one in three adults in the U.S. use both.  But health experts say these findings are concerning because many supplements are known to alter the way the liver breaks down drugs.  

"You might not get the effect that you need from the medication, which would be bad," said Nelson.  "Or you might get toxicities, or increased side effects from the medication."

It's mainly attributed to the herbal component found in most supplements.  Those unique ingredients are what separate most multivitamins from foods that contain vitamins naturally.

"Just a regular multivitamin is different than one that has a lot of herbal medications added into it," said Nelson.

Many assume dietary supplements are completely safe because the side effects aren't noted.

"When you get a prescription filled, you find out all of the potential side effects that could happen from that drug," said Nelson.  "But the dietary supplements don't have all of those side effects because the fact is we just don't know."

That's because dietary supplements don't have to go through the same approval process as prescription meds.

If you are currently using both a prescribed drug and a dietary supplement, health experts highly recommend that you bring your supplement's original container to your health care provider soon.  That way they can determine if the ingredients in the supplement are safe to mix with your prescription.
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