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Answers to Common Medication-Related Questions

Ask an ExactCare Pharmacist

Everyone has questions from time to time about their medications. Your pharmacist is a great resource to help answer these types of questions! Pharmacists are the medication experts on your healthcare team. They have extensive education about medications, how they interact with one another, and how they can support your health. Here, we provide some answers to common medication-related questions featuring one of ExactCare’s own clinical pharmacists, Reeya Patel, PharmD, BCMTMS.


Reeya Patel, PharmD, BCMTMS

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Is it okay to take a supplement with my prescription medication?

Supplements can help improve or maintain overall health, but they can also pose health risks. Supplements are intended to enhance your diet to ensure you receive adequate nutrients. They should not replace food. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), common forms of supplements include:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Soft Gels
  • Gel Caps
  • Powders
  • Bars
  • Gummies
  • Liquids

The top types of supplements are:

  • Vitamins (such as multivitamins)
  • Minerals (such as calcium, magnesium and iron)
  • Botanicals or Herbs (such as ginger)
  • Amino Acids (such as tryptophan)
  • Live Microbials (commonly referred to as “probiotics”)

What are the risks?

Supplements can change the way a medication works. This includes the absorption, metabolism, or break down of a medication. Also, they can affect the potency. This means you could end up getting either too much or too little of the supplement or a prescription medication. Don’t assume “natural” means safe. If a supplement contains new dietary ingredients, the manufacturer must submit data to the FDA before they can sell to consumers. The FDA will review the ingredient safety. Just because an ingredient is safe, does not necessarily mean it’s effective. The FDA reports that problems are most likely to occur if you:

  • Combine supplements
  • Mix medicines and supplements
  • Take too much of some supplements
  • Take supplements instead of medications

Stop taking a supplement immediately if you notice any bad reactions or side effects. Contact a medical professional who can assist and file a report to the FDA. They can contact the manufacturer and remove a product from the market if it is unsafe.

Talk With Your Healthcare Professional Before Using Supplements

You should talk to a pharmacist before you start taking something new or there is a change in your health. You can start by asking about the supplement. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What are the side effects?
  • Can it be taken with all my other prescription medications?
  • When is the best time of day to take a supplement?
  • Can I take over-the-counter medications or vitamins with dietary supplements?
  • Does it need to be stored in a special way?

Consider the following:

  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are breast-feeding
  • Had any recent illness
  • Had any recent surgery or are considering surgery

They should only be taken as prescribed on the label and are not a magic fix. If a label sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Always bring a list of medications you are taking to all of your doctors’ appointments (Primary Care and/or Specialists). This list should include prescriptions, supplements and over-the-counter medications. You should include dosages and how many times a day you take them. Having this information on hand will help your prescribers give you better advice and keep you safer. They can assist with deciding what supplements (if any) could be right for you. Many people have opinions and advice about what you should be taking, but only your healthcare team is qualified to give you advice. They have access to your health information and can help you make decisions that are in your best interest. If you are an ExactCare patient with a question about supplements, call us! You can reach out to our pharmacy at 1-877-355-7225.

Information featured on the ExactCare website, including the Ask a Pharmacist page, should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your pharmacist or doctor for advice regarding your personal health situation. If ExactCare is your pharmacy, call us directly to talk to your pharmacist: 1-877-355-7225


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