It’s more important than ever for patients to work with their physician or nutritionist when considering supplements, according to Loyola University Health System (Maywood, IL).
Some (supplements) are beneficial but others can be dangerous, especially when it comes to interacting with other supplements or medications,” said Aaron Michelfelder, MD, family and integrative medicine physician at Loyola University Health System in a recent Science Daily report. “In general there is no benefit from taking a supplement just for the sake of supplementing. So, talk to your doctor about what would be beneficial for you.”
For instance, Michelfelder said many people don’t know that calcium supplements can interfere with thyroid absorption. “There are so many interactions that many patients aren’t aware of, but if you work with your physician, you can find the best and safest combination for you based on your health history and needs,” said Michelfelder. “Even if your own primary care physician isn’t willing to try supplements, you should still consult a medical professional. There are many integrative and functional medicine physicians who would be happy to provide a consult.”
Science Daily reported that Michelfelder has prescribed supplements to patients when there is a nutrient deficiency or if together they feel it might be beneficial. “In general it’s inexpensive and if it’s not likely to cause harm I think it’s great for patients to give it a try. Everyone is different, everyone’s body is different. For some people it really can make a difference in their health,” said Michelfelder, adding if a person has mildly high blood pressure he might recommend trying a supplement and lifestyle change for six months and then evaluate if a medication is necessary.
There also are instances, such as sleep problems, when Michelfelder prefers to prescribe supplements rather than prescription medication, according to the news report.
“Sleep medications can be habit-forming and leave people impaired the next day. I would much prefer my patients to try melatonin or just better sleep hygiene, such as limiting screen time and increasing exercise,” said Michelfelder, noting there is little research on the effects of supplements on a fetus and he suggests pregnant women stay away from all supplements with the exception of a prenatal vitamin.”There are not as many regulations or as much research done on supplements as there is for medications, so the most important thing is to make sure you talk to your doctor.”