What to ask your doctor before taking dietary supplements

What to ask your doctor before taking dietary supplements

A recent study shows that most primary care physicians don’t talk to their patients about key topics regarding dietary supplements. Study leaders say patients should be consulting with their doctors before starting an over-the-counter regimen to avoid complications.

Vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary supplements are usually available without a prescription, so they may seem harmless.  But experts say, don’t underestimate the strong effects they can have on the body.  If paired with the wrong prescription medication, there can be an adverse reaction.  Some people, including teenagers, those planning to undergo surgery and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, may be more at risk for adverse effects.

Supplements don’t require the thorough inspection that a prescription medication does to be on the market.  To entice buyers, labels on bottles claim all sorts of promises that cannot be supported with actual research, study leaders said.  Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found chemicals, prescription drugs and steroids in sample supplements that were labeled “all natural”.

Your doctor can inform you of any potential interactions and also help you find the right supplement for you.  If you are already taking supplements, talk to your doctor about any issues you are having with them to see if there is an alternative.

Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago, says it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking supplements to discuss their risks, effectiveness.  Dr. Hampton suggests these points as way to start the discussion.

5 topics to discuss with your doctor before taking supplements

  1. The reason for taking the supplements
  2. How to take them
  3. Their potential risks
  4. Their effectiveness
  5. Cost or affordability

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One Comment

  1. Aimee M. Sloan August 7, 2013 at 7:13 am · Reply

    I completely agree. It is best that we consult our doctors before taking any dietary supplements because some may pose a potential threat. Yes, some products can have adverse reactions. What may be good to other people may not be good for us.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.