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Supplementing with nutrients has become very common place and for the most part, should not become alternatives for medications, but an addition. Depending on where your condition lies as a health risk, supplements, diet and lifestyle changes can be a starting point but under the advice of a clinical nutritionist or dietitian. Interactions between medications, supplements and even some healthy foods do exist and yet many well-intentioned advice is given without an understanding that some dangerous interactions can occur. If you’re taking medication, always consult your pharmacist, dietitian or clinical nutritionist trained in this area or able to research any possible interactions. Here are five of the most important interactions to be aware of:

Grapefruit, grapefruit juice and grapefruit extract, are usually healthy antioxidants but well researched as blocking the enzymes required to metabolize some commonplace medicines. As a result, medication levels can build up and alter the dose being administered. This is particularly applicable to:

  • cholesterol-lowering medicines known as statins
  • blood-pressure lowering medicines known as calcium channel blockers
  • sertraline (an antidepressant)
  • carbamazepine (an anti-epileptic medicine)
  • most benzodiazepines (used for anxiety and insomnia)
  • cyclosporine (an immune suppressant)
  • sildenafil (erectile dysfunction medication)
  • saquinavir (antiretroviral HIV medication).

St John’s wort is an over the counter herb used for depression, and tends toward stimulating medications to work more quickly with the likelihood of the medication to be less effective over the day. When taken along with other anti-depressants, the side effects can worsen psychotic symptoms. It is also banned in some countries due to its interference of many serious health issues especially if medications are taken.

Garlic is another enzyme stimulator and may increase the effectiveness of warfarin and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Ginkgo biloba used to improve age-related memory decline can increase the risk of spontaneous internal bleeding in people who take anticoagulants like warfarin, blood thinning medication like aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen

Calcium can block the absorption from the intestine of two classes of antibiotics, tetracycline and quinolones. Calcium can reduce the absorption of thyroid medication. Separate calcium and thyroid medication doses by at least four hours.

Vitamin K is avoided when taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin and may also diminish the effectiveness of some antibiotics such as tetracycline

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