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Should I check with my doctor or healthcare provider
before using a supplement?
This is a good idea, especially for certain population groups. Dietary supplements
may not be risk-free under certain circumstances. If you are pregnant, nursing
a baby, or have a chronic medical condition, such as, diabetes, hypertension or
heart disease, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing
or taking any supplement. While vitamin and mineral supplements are widely used
and generally considered safe for children, you may wish to check with your doctor
or pharmacist before giving these or any other dietary supplements to your child.
If you plan to use a dietary supplement in place of drugs or in combination with
any drug, tell your health care provider first. Many supplements contain active
ingredients that have strong biological effects and their safety is not always
assured in all users. If you have certain health conditions and take these products,
you may be placing yourself at risk.
Some supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Taking a combination of supplements or using these products together with
medications (whether prescription or OTC drugs) could under certain circumstances
produce adverse effects, some of which could be life-threatening. Be alert to
advisories about these products, whether taken alone or in combination. For example:
Coumadin (a prescription medicine), ginkgo biloba (an herbal supplement), aspirin
(an OTC drug) and vitamin E (a vitamin supplement) can each thin the blood, and
taking any of these products together can increase the potential for internal
bleeding. Combining St. John's Wort with certain HIV drugs significantly reduces
their effectiveness. St. John's Wort may also reduce the effectiveness of prescription
drugs for heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers or oral contraceptives.
Some supplements can have unwanted effects during surgery:
It is important to fully inform your doctor about the vitamins, minerals, herbals
or any other supplements you are taking, especially before elective surgery. You
may be asked to stop taking these products at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the procedure
to avoid potentially dangerous supplement/drug interactions -- such as changes
in heart rate, blood pressure and increased bleeding - that could adversely affect
the outcome of your surgery.
Adverse effects from the use of dietary supplements should be reported
You, your health care provider, or anyone may report a serious adverse event or
illness directly to FDA if you believe it is related to the use of any dietary
supplement product, by calling FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178
or reporting on-line at: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/how.htm.
FDA would like to know whenever you think a product caused you a serious problem,
even if you are not sure that the product was the cause, and even if you do not
visit a doctor or clinic. In addition to communicating with FDA on-line or by
phone, you may use the MedWatch form available from the FDA Web site.