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A recent survey published by AARP Research found three-quarters of adults over 50 take at least one prescription drug on a daily basis.
Even if you’re one of those who actually reads the drug information inserts included with your prescription pills, you’re unlikely to find anything about how those medications impact your nutrient needs. And yet, some of the most commonly prescribed medications, such as Coumadin and Metformin, can increase your requirement for certain nutrients.
Common Drug and Nutrient Interactions
Here are some of the most common drug nutrient interaction, along with some tasty tips for making sure your nutritional bases are covered:
1. If you take…a statin cholesterol-lowering medication.
You may need more coenzyme Q10 in your diet. Good dietary sources include beef, poultry, oily fish such as herring and mackerel, peanuts, sunflower seeds and canola oil. Statin drugs also deplete vitamin E, which can be found in many of the same foods that supply coenzyme Q10. If you take a multivitamin, consider looking for one that includes coenzyme Q10, which is also known as ubiquinone.
2. If you take…an estrogen replacement.
3. If you take…acid-blocking drugs.
You may need more B12, calcium and magnesium in your diet to compensate for reduced absorption of these nutrients. B12 is found only in animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy products (which are also a good source of calcium). Magnesium, on the other hand, is found in green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
4. If you take…antidepressants.
Known as tricyclics (which include Elavil, Tofranil and Vivactil), you might end up low in riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2. Dairy products, eggs, almonds and spinach are all good sources of riboflavin. Breakfast cereals are often fortified with riboflavin as well.
5. If you take…diabetes medications.
Taking drugs such as Metformin, can up your requirements for vitamin B12 (see above for acid-blocking drugs) and coenzyme Q10 (see above for cholesterol-lowering medications).
6. If you take…a diuretic medication.
When taking drugs such as Lasix, you’re at a higher risk for thiamine deficiency. Whole grains (especially brown rice), legumes, nuts, pork and wheat germ are all good sources of thiamine. Fortified breakfast cereals also provide a healthy amount.
7. If you take…a blood thinning medication.
Those who take Coumadin, have special needs with regard to vitamin K or phylloquinone, which is found in leafy green and cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli. In this case, however, it’s not a matter of getting too little vitamin K, but of getting too much. Vitamin K can interfere with the effectiveness of some blood thinners. But the goal is not to avoid foods high in vitamin K altogether, as these are quite healthy foods. Rather, you’ll want to include these healthy vegetables into your diet regularly and in moderate amounts (no more than one or two servings per day).
Always be sure to read your labels carefully and talk to your doctor about any potential drug nutrient interaction or food and drug interaction to ensure you will be at your best health.