Supplements Wonder or Waste

11330123_mlThere are many views on taking supplements. Some people will tell you to not waste your money on them because they don’t do anything while others will swear that they cured such-and-such issue with them. Did you know that both sides are correct and wrong at the same time? Just like prescription medication, supplements can harm or help, depending on your needs and how you take them. One of the hardest things to determine when first looking into supplements, are if you need them and how you should take them. According to CBS, over 50% of Americans take supplements already. Here are a few tips to make sure you are taking supplements correctly.

green-cross1.      Keep a record of all the supplements you take and the dosage. Make sure to take a list of all your supplements, even if you take them infrequently and a list of your medications to all doctor visits. Since some disease symptoms can be masked by taking some supplements, it is important to keep a list of everything you take, regardless of how often you take them.

2.      Have your doctor approve the supplements and make sure they are added to your electronic health record.  Your doctor will know if certain medications and supplements with interfere with each other and can recommend dosage and times. This is very important because certain supplements can interfere with medications, blocking the effects or accelerating the absorption to toxic levels.

31133448_s3.      Write down and keep track of your doctor’s recommendation. If you don’t understand something, then ask. If you doctor doesn’t want your calcium supplement to be taken within 4 hours of your antibiotic, then there is a reason. Calcium can bind to the antibiotic and render it ineffectual. He may even recommend that you stop taking it until you finish the antibiotics because it can do more harm than good in that short time.

4.      When you get home from your appointment, make copies of your doctor’s recommendations and keep them available for when you have questions. It’s best to have paper or backup copies in case something happens to your primary instructions.

demo_weekly_PILLS5.      If you have a smart phone, download an app like MedsMinders. It can help you keep track of when to take specific medications, what the special instructions were, the prescribing doctor, pharmacy it was filled, and everything else you might need on hand.

6.      Double check that you also added your supplements to your app as well. In the special instructions, you can put which medications you take that interact, and how long you have to wait before taking it. If you put it in the app, then if you miss a dose or it gets delayed, you will not have to struggle to remember what you have to keep separate and what can be taken together.

With more research spending focused on supplements more than any one disease, supplements are sweeping the medical world. It is important to use them as directed. Supplements taken improperly can not only be ineffective, but they can be dangerous. For more information about how supplements can interact with medications, check out CBS news story here.