1/3 of Americans Mixing Prescription Drugs and Dietary Supplements. Is this a good practice?

drugsOne in three Americans is mixing dietary supplements with prescription medications, according to new research and the risk for potential interactions between prescription medications and dietary supplements is significant.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers analyzed data on 9,950 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In this nationally representative sample of adults, 34.3 percent reported using dietary supplements and prescription medications together. Adults diagnosed with a medical condition were 2.5 times more likely to mix supplements with drugs than those without a medical condition.

The researchers found that multivitamins with added ingredients like ginkgo  were more commonly used than standard multivitamins. The researchers also found that multivitamins with added ingredients, antacids, and multivitamins that have added botanical ingredients were the most common dietary supplements to be used in conjunction with prescription medications. The most common prescription medication categories that were taken with dietary supplements were heart medications and hormone medications.

The authors concluded that dietary supplement use was highest among patients who have medical conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, liver conditions, heart conditions and diabetes. Prescription medication use was highest among patients with the same medical conditions. Patients who have been diagnosed with a medical condition should talk to their doctors about the dietary supplements that they are taking.

For information about potential drug-supplement interactions, please visit Natural Standard’s Advanced Interactions Checker.

  1. Farina EK, Austin KG, Lieberman HR. Concomitant Dietary Supplement and Prescription Medication Use Is Prevalent among US Adults with Doctor-Informed Medical Conditions. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Apr 4. View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com

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