8 Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid

In this era, where we follow our taste buds more than our health buds, it has become crucial to provide our body with minerals and vitamins in the required efficacious amounts. Thus, from our treasure chest of shortcuts, we’ve switched nutrition from food to nutrition from supplements. 

Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid

A survey by Assocham concluded that about 78% of the urban youth takes at least one dietary supplement, with or without the guidance of a health practitioner. Now imagine how many of them would be dangerously consuming supplements. 

Let’s talk about some of these common dietary regimes that might do more harm than good to our bodies.

8 Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid

1. Zinc and Copper

Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid: Zinc and Copper

Since our bodies cannot formulate zinc, it is considered an essential mineral needed for the body’s defence system (immune) for functioning. It plays a role in cell division, cell growth and healing, and others. 

The body also requires copper in energy production and to support bone, skin, neurological, and cardiovascular health. 

The point of knowledge is that both copper and zinc are components of superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant enzyme utilized by the immune system. Consequently, even if copper deficiency is rare, it can result from high levels of zinc intake, because of a decreased ability to absorb and use copper from the diet. If you are taking a zinc supplement daily, with or without copper, then it may be time to consider the addition of a copper supplement or extra copper intake respectively, as well.

2. Iron and Calcium, Antacids or Milk

Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid: Iron and Calcium, Antacids or Milk

Eating iron-rich foods is a key part of treating and preventing iron deficiency anaemia, which is caused by low blood iron levels. Iron supplements are needed to rebuild iron stores in your body as well.

What needs to be heeded is to avoid milk, calcium and antacids at the same time as iron supplements, as they interfere with iron absorption, and you’d end up wasting the privileges of either supplement. It is advisable to postpone taking your iron supplements at least 2 hours after having these foods.

Similar interactive foods that you should avoid at the same time as you take your iron include high fibre foods, such as whole grains, raw vegetables, foods or drinks with caffeine. It is suggested that taking a vitamin C supplement or consuming citrus fruit juices with your iron pill helps the iron absorb into your body. 

3. Magnesium and Calcium

Magnesium labors with calcium to prevent the depletion of calcium deposits in our bones and thus maintain healthy bones. However, they both also counter-act to prevent each other’s absorption. They’re the friends that sweat together, stay together, and fight together. Thus, it is important to have an appropriate ratio of dosage of both minerals for them to be effective. A good rule of thumb is a 2:1 calcium-to-magnesium ratio. For example, if you take 900 mg of calcium, you should also take 450 mg of magnesium.

The ratio should not be altered by increasing or reducing the dose of any of the minerals as high doses of magnesium can cause diarrhoea, gastric cancer and high doses of calcium can cause magnesium deficiency leading to diabetes, celiac disease and hungry bone syndrome.

4. Grapefruit and Statins

Do you believe that cholesterol is an enemy? Well, cholesterol in abundance sure is something you don’t yearn for.

Statins are medicines that lower your cholesterol. A bad news for people with high cholesterol levels who can’t resist their sweet tooth craving for grapefruit juice is that when you drink a lot of grapefruit juice while taking certain statin drugs, too much of the drug may stay in your body, increasing your risk for liver and muscle damage that can lead to kidney failure. Do not drink grapefruit juice if you’re taking simvastatin. Grapefruit juice increases the level of simvastatin in your blood and makes side effects more pronounced.

Atorvastatin interacts with grapefruit juice if you drink large quantities (more than 1.2 litres daily), but an occasional glass is considered to be safe. 

Currently, healthcare professionals advise that it is safe to drink grapefruit juice and eat grapefruit if you’re taking other statins.

Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid
Image credits: whatsgood.vitaminshoppe.com

5. Vitamin C and B12 

Vitamin C is one of the cheapest and easily available supplements out there. I read this complaint on one of the online advice portals about how his mother forces him into 4 tablets of vitamin C each day. It is agreeable that Vitamin C is important in the health of the connective tissues of the body. It also helps in iron absorption in the body.

However, large doses of vitamin C may interfere with the absorption and metabolism of vitamin B12. You’ll absorb B12 better with a meal. If you also use vitamin C, put 2 hours of gap between the intakes as Vitamin C can keep your body from using B12, the deficiency of which can lead to pernicious anaemia or nervous system injuries. And trust me, you do not want to deal with sick nerves.

6. Iron and Green tea

Green tea has several health benefits as a powerful antioxidant, but experiments in a laboratory mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease suggest that consuming green tea along with dietary iron may lessen green tea’s benefits. It happens as the main component of the tea, EGCG, binds with iron and loses its antioxidant property. 

Moreover, green tea interferes with iron absorption and can lead to iron deficiency anaemia when consumed in large quantities. 

7. Vitamin K with Vitamin D and E 

The combination of multivitamins does not cause any significant harmful interaction, but we need to realise that our body does not have a 100% efficiency in absorbing all sorts of vitamins overloaded onto it at the same time. 

Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid: Vitamin K with Vitamin D and E

Hence, fat-soluble vitamins like E and K can reduce the body’s capacity to absorb Vitamin K when taken in case of blood clotting disorder, bone healing and unregulated blood calcium levels. 

8. Niacin and Red Yeast Rice

While early cholesterol control is a remedy to the commonest health issues like atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes and hypertension, doubling up your medications by intake of niacin and red yeast rice could lead to serious implications like kidney disease, rhabdomyolysis and skeletal muscle breakdown, especially in the elderly. You surely don’t want myopathies building inside you on a routine of stroke treatment.

This is not medical advice. Unless specifically directed by a doctor, it’s not a good idea to take individual vitamin or mineral supplements. The basic idea is that water-soluble vitamins, such as C and B-complex, can be flushed out of your system when there’s an excess, but the fat-soluble vitamins D, E, K and A are stored in the body, so taking large amounts can be tricky.

Liked 8 Dietary Supplement and Drug Combos To Avoid? Also read, A Healthy Belly Is a Secret to a Healing Mind.

Ishika Chaudhary
Ishika Chaudhary


Ishika is an intern at Arcane Lost. She is a medical undergrad student from MS Ramaiah Medical College. She is fond of addressing social health issues and personal well being through her writings, besides her interest in community involvement.She enjoys reading sci-fi and loves to paint in her spare time.

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