Good for you - you have a positive outlook on life and take steps each day to embark upon a healthy, life-enriching path. You make every effort each day to fuel your body, mind and spirit-- eat the right foods, exercise, get proper rest, take your vitamins, and get regular check-ups by your doctor. You strive each day to make your good even better, and your!

The good news doesn't stop here either. Now there are even more opportunities to achieve and maintain physical and emotional health and well-being.

As you know, taking supplements daily is an important step in your journey towards overall health and well-being. Furthermore, it`s often difficult to assess your intake of key nutrients from dietary sources alone. This is where supplements can come to the rescue. Just in case your dietary intake is not sufficient, supplements can provide a form of nutritional insurance. Unfortunately, in some instances, consuming dietary supplements -- in addition to eating well -- may not be enough and you may find the need for certain prescription medication(s).

In the same way that you may not know if you are getting all the right nutrients you need from your diet, you may also not be aware that your prescription medications may be depleting essential nutrients from your body. Dietary supplements can provide many health benefits, and when taken as directed, are a key component of a proactive lifestyle approach for optimal health. Many of us take supplements for therapeutic purposes, such as joint health or low mood, and to help prevent the onset of numerous chronic conditions that have been associated with aging. Therefore, it's wise to take a closer look at your prescription medications and the possible effects they may have upon your health:

  • Are you taking Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen or Aspirin for joint problems? In addition to the potential for stomach upset from these medications, NSAIDs can deplete the body of essential folic acid. Aspirin may also deplete the body of vitamin C. Folic acid is particularly important for women of child-bearing age who may become pregnant. Adequate intake of folic acid (400 mcg/day) is necessary to prevent brain/spinal cord defects in newborns. In addition, folic acid is one of 3 key B vitamins that also may help promote heart health by maintaining healthy homocysteine levels in the blood. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which fights free radicals that may damage tissue, including joint tissue. Vitamin C also happens to be a building block of collagen - the support structure for connective tissue including skin, bone, and cartilage. Vitamin D is another important nutrient for joint health, and at least 1000 IU/day of vitamin D is suggested for good health and to help promote joint comfort as well.
  • Are you taking a statin drug to help lower cholesterol? Statin drugs such as Lipitor and Zocor may lower CoQ10 levels in the body. Therefore, whenever taking statins, it is important to supplement with CoQ10 (100-200 mg/day) to help prevent reduced levels of this key nutrient in the body. CoQ10 is an important nutrient for heart and muscle function. Individuals who are taking statin medications and experience significant muscle discomfort, should inform their doctor. Supplementing with CoQ10 while on a statin drug may not only help maintain heart health, but may help maintain muscle function as well.
  • Are you taking Heartburn medication such as Nexium or Prevacid? These medications interfere with calcium and vitamin B12 absorption. Low levels of gastric acid affect the absorption of calcium carbonate, specifically, because this form of calcium requires gastric acidity for absorption. As a result, when taking these types of medications for heartburn or acid reflux, opt for calcium citrate (which does not require gastric acid for absorption). Calcium, along with vitamin D, is important for promoting bone health. Furthermore, reducing stomach acidity can decrease absorption of vitamin B12 from food sources. So, you may want to consider taking a B12 supplement. An interesting fact to know is that synthetic B12 in supplements does not require stomach acid for absorption and can offset the effect of acid-reducing drugs upon vitamin B12 absorption. Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system and maintaining heart health.
  • Are you taking an Oral Hypoglycemic drug such as Metformin or Glucophage? This drug may reduce absorption of vitamin B12 and folic acid. These key B vitamins work together to maintain healthy homocysteine levels that may help to contribute to heart health. Moreover, many adults over age 50 are already at risk for a B12 deficiency. If you are over 50 years of age, you may want to have your doctor check your levels of B12.
  • Are you taking medications for depression such as Prozac or Zoloft? Individuals with depression may have lower levels of B vitamins, in particular, folic acid. Furthermore, low levels of vitamin D have been associated with low mood, and at least 1,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 is recommended.

Final comment: Keep up the good work in terms of staying the course on your healthy, life-enriching path to good health! Here's a helpful chart to keep your health goals in sight.

*If you do need prescription medication(s), such as those mentioned in this article, it is important to discuss drug-supplement interactions and nutrient depletions with your doctor or preferred health care provider.

Reference: Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutrition. Hyla Cass, M.D., 2007.