Can I take certain medications together?

Drug interactions

Who has to take medication ...

Anyone who has to take medication knows that it is important to adhere to the intake instructions. One drug must be taken half an hour before eating, the other with food, and another two hours afterwards.

Medication A must not be taken together with medication B or there must be an interval of at least four hours between them. The reason for this are interactions between the drugs, which could otherwise lead to their effect being increased, reduced or even blocked. In the worst case, this can be life-threatening.

Such interactions also exist between foods and drugs. That is why you can only take medication with water, not with juices - especially not with grapefruit juice.

Many dietary supplements contain herbal substances that can also lead to such interactions. However, they are also possible with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or fatty acids - especially if these are very high doses, as is often the case with food supplements. A good example is biotin, which falsifies the levels of thyroid and sex hormones in laboratory tests and cardiovascular markers such as troponin.

What can I do myself to protect myself?

If you need to take any medication, it is a good idea to discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist before buying any dietary supplement. He can tell you whether there is a risk of reciprocal effects and how you can avoid them, if necessary, through time intervals.

Dietary supplements can have an influence on laboratory values, for example affect blood clotting, hormone status or blood sugar level. And your doctor then wonders why the drugs aren't working for you.

The urine can also change its pH value, for example, or discolor it, as a result of dietary supplements. The same goes for the chair.

That is why it is important that the health professionals who look after you (including alternative practitioners, nutritionists, etc.) know exactly what you are doing "for your health". We have created the "Personal Health Pharmacy" list for this purpose, in which you can continuously enter all the nutritional supplements and medications you have taken.

Actually, doctors and co. Should ask you as a patient whether you are taking other products such as dietary supplements in addition to the prescribed / recommended drugs. However, this is always forgotten. So remember to mention it yourself - for the sake of your health.

Unexpected negative effect on your health?

Have you noticed an interaction, an unexpected skin reaction or even worse symptoms after taking a dietary supplement?

  • Report this to the food control authority responsible for your place of residence and also contact the manufacturer.
  • To be on the safe side, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Manufacturers do not have to provide any information

Like all food producers, manufacturers of dietary supplements are not obliged to provide information about drug interactions. Just as little is intended to say anything about contraindications (who must not take the product) and side effects (what could happen with what probability).

Vitamins and minerals are not only available as dietary supplements, but also as medicines. It is stipulated for drugs that they must provide information on contraindications, side effects and interactions with other drugs and nutrients on an instruction leaflet "package insert". However, this does not apply to food supplements - even if they are dosed as high or even higher. If you want to know which possible interactions which suppliers of dietary supplements are legally allowed to conceal, you will find detailed information on this in this overview.

Nonetheless, there is often a lack of information in the instructions for use of medicinal products that specifically relates to food supplements or foods fortified with micronutrients. Sometimes, however, there is an indication that tablet XY must not be taken with milk or cheese. Then it could be that this tablet must not be taken together with the dissolved calcium effervescent tablet. Thyroid tablets must not be taken with iron. But if an iron-fortified fruit juice is drunk in a timely manner, that is exactly what would happen. Potassium supplements should not be taken if the doctor has prescribed medication for high blood pressure.

The Food Information Regulation, Annex III, only provides warnings for certain ingredients such as caffeine, liquorice root (glycyrrhizic acid) and phytosterols as well as for azo colorings and certain sweeteners. In addition, clear labeling of allergens (e.g. glucosamine from shellfish) is mandatory.

However, voluntary information is possible and should also be used by the manufacturers if possible. The image shows the positive example of a dietary supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin.

For example, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends that information on isoflavones should be given as to the maximum duration of use. Unfortunately, corresponding information is missing for many products, as a market check by the consumer advice centers has shown.

Further suggestions for advice from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Vitamin K: When taking anticoagulant medication - consumption only after consultation with a doctor

Iron: Post-menopausal women, pregnant women and men - only after consulting a doctor

zinc more than 3.5 mg per daily dose: You should avoid taking other zinc-containing food supplements

Calcium with more than 250 mg / daily dose: You should avoid taking other calcium-containing food supplements

Copper: not suitable for children and young people

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