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Should You Really Stop Taking Your Supplements?

Before you stop taking your supplements, check to make sure your medications are not interfering with nutrient absorption.
Should You Really Stop Taking Your Supplements?
Two hands holding a variety of pills supplements

Vitamin and mineral pills are still controversial, despite years of study. Many doctors have decided that you should get all your nutrients from your food. No doubt you could, if you followed a thoughtful eating plan based on plenty of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts. But many Americans don’t eat like that, and others take medications that might interfere with nutrient absorption. Should you really stop taking your supplements?

Are You Taking Your Supplements?

Q. I just saw my doctor today and got a good health report. However, he told me to stop taking all supplements. He said there is little proof of benefit and supplements can actually be harmful. Is this true?

A. The only way you will know whether your nutritional needs are being met by diet alone would be to have comprehensive testing. Doctors are not always aware of the contributors to potential deficiencies.

Medicines That May Interfere with Nutrients:

People taking medications like lisinopril for hypertension can be low in zinc, for example. Metformin for diabetes can impact vitamin B1, folic acid and vitamin B12. Acid-suppressing medications such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec) can lead to lower levels of magnesium, selenium and iron as well as several B vitamins.

In addition, people taking medicines for psychological or psychiatric disorders are also at risk for nutritional deficits (Boullata, Current Nutrition Reports, June 2019).

To learn more about the pros and cons of nutritional supplements, you may wish to read Fortify Your Life by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog. You can also order it by mail. To do so, please send $16 plus $4 for postage and handling to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy (Dept. FYL); PO Box 52027; Durham, NC, 27717-2027.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Show 1022: How to Pick Dietary Supplements That Make Sense for You
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Although we are often told to get our nutrients from a well-balanced diet, the drugs we take and the way we eat may mean we need supplements.

Show 1022: How to Pick Dietary Supplements That Make Sense for You
  • Boullata JI, "Drug-nutrition interactions and the brain: It's not all in your head." Current Nutrition Reports, June 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s13668-019-0273-2
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