Buying SupplementsSupplement Interactions: What to Watch for When Buying Supplements

When most people decide on which supplement to take, they focus on how it can improve their health. And that’s fair.

You’re taking supplements to make you healthier, after all. But supplement interactions with other drugs is important to consider as well.

The last thing you need is for one of the supplements you’re taking to exacerbate another – often entirely unrelated – condition.

In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the most common supplements people take – and the supplement interactions you could be facing.

Astaxanthin – If anyone ever truly finds a fountain of youth, I’d be willing to bet it includes astaxanthin. That’s how amazing this anti-aging supplement is. You’re still going to want to be on the lookout for these supplement interactions, though. If you’re taking blood thinners, blood pressure, or blood sugar medications, talk to your doctor about taking astaxanthin. Because it can lower all of those on its own, it may cause unhealthy drops when combined with medications. It also has the potential to lower serum calcium levels, so use caution taking astaxanthin if you have osteoporosis, or other calcium-related conditions.

Chia – Chia seeds are all the rage right now, and for a good reason. They are packed with nutrients and are one of the few foods out there that actually deserve the nickname “super food.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they are 100% free of supplement interactions with prescription drugs. While they are generally a safe, healthy choice, chia seeds might react with blood pressure medications and with blood thinners.

Fish Oils and other Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Omega-3s, if they come from fish oil, flax seed, or some other source, can be a powerful supplement to keep your heart and cardiovascular system strong. But the very ways Omega-3s can help your heart, may cause supplement interactions if you combine them with certain drugs. Since Omega-3s help lower blood pressure, when combined with blood pressure medications, they could cause your numbers to drop too much. You should also use caution when taking fish oil while on blood thinners, or medications that slow the blood clotting process. Also, if blood sugar is a concern for you, know that omega-3s can sometimes raise your levels, requiring higher doses of blood sugar medications.

L-Arginine – L-Arginine does wonders for blood flow, so it’s often considered “a men’s supplement” but it can also be found in heart health supplements that both of you can take. Which is why we wanted to start with the potential supplement interaction with certain hormone replacement pills for menopausal women. When taken with birth control or hormone replacement therapy, L-Arginine may cause a severe, potentially dangerous, build-up of potassium. This risk is higher in older women. But women aren’t the only ones who should be on the lookout for supplement interactions with L-Arginine. Men taking prescription sexual health medications should be especially careful combining them with L-Arginine. And everyone taking blood pressure, blood thinning, or blood sugar medications should speak with their doctor before taking L-Arginine for any reason.

Vitamin D – Vitamin D is important for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it helps your body absorb the calcium you need to keep your bones strong. However, calcium also impacts the heart, so taking Vitamin D with certain heart medications can lead to supplement interactions including irregular heartbeat and/or affecting how much of your prescription actually gets used by your body the way it’s intended. Also, because “water pills” or diuretics can increase levels of calcium in the body, taking Vitamin D while taking diuretics can cause an unhealthy build-up of calcium.

All of these supplements can help you live a longer, healthier, more vibrant life. But like anything else, you need to balance the risks with the rewards.

Before starting anything new – taking a new supplement, or adding a new prescription – talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential supplement interactions.

Don’t let a good thing become a burden, because you weren’t aware of the risks. Avoiding supplement interactions is easy. So ask the right questions now, and you can get back to living your very best life, instead of worrying about it later!