Don’t Make These Mistakes When Talking to Your Doctor about Vitamins and Supplements
Americans spend over $23 billion a year on these products. We often find the “natural” labeling reassuring. Many people swear that these products work wonders.
BY: Jo Ann LeQuang
3. Some supplements can potentially interact with drugs you already take. In such cases, the supplement may be safe and the drug may be safe, but they do not work well together.
4. Some supplements and vitamins can cause symptoms. For instance, peppermint essential oil in high doses can cause heart burn. The oil can relax certain smooth muscles, and in the case of the digestive system, that is not the ideal situation. If you go to the doctor with heart burn, he or she may prescribe a drug. But if you go to the doctor for heart burn and explain that you ingest a capsule of peppermint essential oil every day, the doctor may be able to match your symptom with the supplement. In this case (which happened to me), cutting down on peppermint oil ended the heart burn.
Finally, consumers need to be cautious when purchasing vitamins and supplements. These products are not regulated the same way over-the-counter drugs are regulated, even though they may be sitting side-by-side on the store shelf. The ingredients for some of these supplemental and “natural” products may come from abroad, where the FDA has limited inspections and jurisdiction. Be suspicious of grandiose marketing claims on product labels. If you are intrigued by a particular supplement, ask your physician about it before you make it part of a regular regimen.
Of course, not all physicians are enthusiastic about natural products, vitamins, and supplementation. If you feel you benefit from these types of products, you may want to find a physician who is more aligned with your way of thinking to give you balanced advice. The truth about vitamins and supplements is somewhere in the middle—they may be helpful but they also can be associated with certain very real risks. The trick is learning to navigate your way around them and integrating them with other prescription drugs and treatments.