10 Supplements You Should Ask Your Doctor About Before Taking

November 30, 2023by phenixhealtstg

In recent years, dietary supplements have become more popular. Australians are turning to supplements to complement their lifestyles and address specific health needs. 

While dietary supplements can be a valuable addition for many people, making informed decisions is super important. Everyone has unique health needs and considerations, so that’s why it’s important to consult with a doctor or nurse before taking any new supplements. This helps ensure that supplement choices align with personal health goals and do not pose unintended risks.

 

10 Supplements to Discuss in Your Telehealth Appointment

Different supplements can negatively interact with different medications, causing unwanted side effects or even affecting the efficacy of other medications you need to take. Below, we discuss 10 different supplements and how they can interact with certain medications you might be taking.

St John’s Wort:

St John’s Wort is a type of herbal supplement. People use it because they believe it might help improve their mood and emotional well-being. However, it’s crucial to have a conversation with your doctor about it. This is because St John’s Wort has the potential to interact with some types of medication, such as antidepressants and migraine treatments. Talking to your doctor ensures that it’s safe for you to use this supplement alongside any medications you may be taking. 

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is really important for making our bones strong and keeping our immune system healthy. They sometimes call it the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies produce it when we spend time in the sunlight. However, not everyone gets enough sunlight, and that’s where supplements come in. Some people might need to take Vitamin D as a supplement, like a pill, to make sure they get the right amount. It’s like giving your body a little extra help to stay strong and healthy, especially if you don’t get enough sunshine. However, taking too much vitamin D can cause unwanted side effects like nausea and stomach pains, and vitamin D can interact with some medications. So always have a chat with a healthcare practitioner before you add this supplement to your regimen.  

Turmeric:

Turmeric is a spice that comes from a plant and is well-known for its bright yellow colour, commonly used to add a dash of flavour and vibrancy to dishes. Beyond its culinary use, some people choose to take turmeric supplements, believing in their potential anti-inflammatory benefits. 

However, it’s crucial to have a chat with your doctor before adding turmeric supplements to your routine. This ensures it’s not only safe for you but also takes into consideration potential interactions with medications. For instance, according to information from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, turmeric might affect the effectiveness of certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs and indomethacin, which is used for arthritis symptoms. Additionally, there’s a possibility of an increased risk of bleeding when turmeric is taken alongside anticoagulants. So, like with any health choice, it’s wise to get personalised advice from your online doctor to make sure it fits well with your overall well-being.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is like a superhero for your body—it’s essential for having a strong immune system, which helps you fight off illnesses, and it keeps your skin healthy and glowing. You can find Vitamin C in lots of tasty fruits and vegetables. 

Some people might need a bit more Vitamin C than what they get from their regular meals. That’s where supplements come in – like little helpers giving you an extra boost. If, for some reason, it’s tricky for you to get enough Vitamin C from your diet, your online doctor might suggest these supplements to make sure you’re getting all the goodness your body needs. It’s like having a backup plan to keep you feeling your best! However, taking too much vitamin C can have negative side effects like nausea and headaches, and it can affect how your body absorbs other essential nutrients, like iron. Before taking Vitamin C, have a chat with your doctor. Our team at Phenix Health can even refer you for pathology testing, which gives the doctor a better understanding of your nutrient needs so they can give you the best, most tailored advice.

Licorice Root:

Licorice root is an herb that some folks turn to for different reasons, like helping with digestive issues or soothing a sore throat. Imagine it as a natural comfort for your body. Licorice root is a plant that some people use for tummy troubles or a sore throat. But, it’s super important to talk to your online doctor before trying it because licorice root might affect your blood pressure and interact poorly with some medicines. With an online health consultation, you can ensure that licorice root is appropriate for you.

Iron:

Iron is a vital mineral that helps our bodies make red blood cells, which carry oxygen. Some people, especially if they don’t have enough iron, might need a little extra help from iron supplements. However, you should always talk with your healthcare team before taking them. They’ll help figure out if iron supplements are appropriate for you, how much iron your body needs and the right amount. 

Ginkgo Biloba:

Ginkgo Biloba is an herbal supplement that some say can help with brain function, inflammation, and keeps the blood flowing smoothly. Before you decide to try it, it’s super important to talk to your online doctor. Why? Well, this herbal helper might not get along well with certain medicines, and it might not be the best fit for everyone. So, speaking with your online doctor will ensure that it’s safe and right for you.

Vitamin E:

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect our cells from damage. While it’s found in certain foods, some people may need supplements. If that’s you, just have a chat with your online doctor. They’ll make sure you’re taking the right amount of this helpful vitamin. 

Calcium:

Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth. You can find it in things like milk and cheese, but, if some people might need a bit more calcium, and that’s where supplements come in. Book an appointment with telehealth to have a quick chat with a doctor or nurse about calcium. They’ll make sure you’re getting the right amount of this essential nutrient that’s essential for great bone and teeth health. 

Goldenseal:

Goldenseal is an herbal supplement that some people use for various health reasons. However, it can interact with medications and may not be suitable for everyone, such as pregnant or breastfeeding people. It’s crucial to have a discussion with your online doctor to ensure it’s safe and beneficial for you.

 

Why Discuss Supplements with Your Doctor?

Importance of Professional Guidance in Supplement Choices

While supplements can offer various health benefits, their effectiveness and safety depends on your health conditions. Professional guidance ensures that supplement choices align with personal health goals, preventing potential adverse effects and optimising positive outcomes.

 

Risks Associated with Self-Prescribing and Potential Interactions

Self-prescribing supplements without professional input can pose significant risks. You may accidentally choose supplements that interact with existing medications or exacerbate underlying health conditions. Discussing supplements with a doctor reduces these risks, fostering a safer and more effective approach to supplementation.

 

Online Doctor Appointments for Supplement Consultations

Online doctor appointments are a convenient and accessible platform for supplement consultations. Through virtual consultations, healthcare professionals can assess your health profile, discuss supplement choices, and provide personalised recommendations. Our team of online doctors and nurses can also refer you to pathology testing, to examine your current deficiencies and determine which supplements you do or do not need. With Phenix Health, you receive expert guidance without the need for in-person visits. 

 

Which supplements are most likely to require a doctor’s consultation?

 

Specific Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbal Supplements

Certain supplements demand closer investigation due to their potential impact on health. Identifying specific vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements that may pose risks is crucial. This includes supplements with higher potency or those known to interact with medications.

Potential Risks Associated with These Supplements

The discussion with a doctor involves a thorough examination of potential risks associated with specific supplements. This may include adverse reactions, contraindications, or heightened risks for certain populations. This ensures that you’re fully informed about the supplements you are considering.

 

Choosing High-Quality and Safe Supplements

When it comes to supplements, quality and safety are paramount. Not all supplements are created equal, and some may contain harmful contaminants, inaccurate labels, or ineffective ingredients. Want to ensure that the supplements you choose are high-quality and safe? Here are some tips to help you select reputable brands and understand supplement labels.

Tips for Selecting Reputable Brands

Selecting reputable brands is a key aspect of ensuring supplement quality. Reputable brands are those that have a good reputation in the market, follow the best practices for producing supplements, and provide evidence to support their claims. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a reputable brand:

  • Third-party testing: This means that an independent organisation has verified the quality, purity, and potency of the supplement. Third-party testing ensures that the supplement contains what it claims, and does not contain any harmful substances, such as heavy metals, pesticides, or microbes. Look for seals of approval from organisations such as TGA, NMI, or ACCC on the supplement label or website. These seals indicate that the supplement has met the standards of these organisations for quality and safety.
  • Industry certifications: This means that the supplement manufacturer has followed the best practices for producing supplements, such as complying with the Australian Code of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for Medicinal Products. Industry certifications ensure that the supplement has been produced in a clean and controlled environment, and that the ingredients and labels are accurate and truthful. Look for certifications from organisations such as TGA, NMI, or ACCC on the supplement label. These certifications indicate that the supplement has been audited and inspected by these organisations for quality and compliance.
  • Customer reviews: This means that the supplement has received positive feedback from other consumers who have used it. Customer reviews can provide insights into the effectiveness, safety, and satisfaction of the supplement. However, be wary of fake or biased reviews, and look for verified and honest reviews from reliable sources, such as ProductReview, Choice, or Canstar Blue. These sources can help you compare different brands and products based on customer ratings and comments.

 

Understanding Supplement Labels for Safety and Efficacy

Decoding supplement labels is an important skill for patients. Supplement labels provide essential information about the supplement, such as dosage, ingredients, and potential allergens. Understanding these terms can help you make informed choices that align with your health goals. Here are some terms to pay attention to when reading supplement labels:

  • Dosage: This refers to the amount of the supplement that you should take per serving or per day. The dosage may vary depending on the type and form of the supplement, as well as your individual needs and preferences. Always follow the directions on the label or consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement. Taking too much or too little of a supplement can have adverse effects on your health.
  • Ingredients: This refers to the substances that make up the supplement, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other compounds. The ingredients should be listed in order of decreasing weight or amount, and should include the common or scientific name, the part of the plant or animal used, and the amount or concentration of the active ingredient. The ingredients should also indicate if they are synthetic or natural, organic or non-organic, and if they contain any additives, fillers, or binders. Some ingredients may have benefits or risks for certain health conditions, so do your research before taking any supplement.
  • Potential allergens: This refers to the substances that may cause allergic reactions or sensitivities in some people, such as milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, shellfish, or gluten. The potential allergens should be clearly stated on the label, either in the ingredients list or in a separate statement. If you have any known allergies or intolerances, avoid taking supplements that contain these substances or consult with your health care provider before taking them. Some allergens may also interact with certain medications, so check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking any supplement.

 

Age-Specific Considerations

 

Special Considerations for Different Age Groups, Including the Elderly and Children

Different age groups have distinct health needs. This section explores the considerations for the elderly and children, highlighting specific supplements that may be beneficial or pose risks within these demographics. Here’s a more detailed exploration of the special considerations for various age groups, focusing on the elderly and children:

 

Elderly Individuals:

Nutrient Absorption: As people age, there may be changes in the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and calcium. Therefore, elderly individuals may benefit from supplements that address potential deficiencies.

Bone Health: Osteoporosis becomes a concern in older age. Calcium and vitamin D supplements may be recommended to support bone health and reduce the risk of fractures.

Joint Health: Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may be considered to support joint health, especially for those experiencing arthritis or joint discomfort.

Heart Health: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil supplements, may be beneficial for maintaining heart health, which becomes increasingly important as individuals age.

Cognitive Health: Antioxidant-rich supplements, including vitamin E and C, may be considered for cognitive health and to potentially reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

 

Children:

Growth and Development: Children experience rapid growth and development, making certain nutrients crucial. Supplements containing essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, calcium, and iron, may be recommended to support overall growth.

Immune Support: Children are often exposed to various germs in school and social settings. Vitamin C and zinc supplements may be considered to support a robust immune system.

Brain Health: Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are essential for brain development. Omega-3 supplements, often derived from fish oil, may contribute to cognitive function.

Iron Supplementation: Children, especially during periods of rapid growth, may require additional iron. Iron supplements can help prevent iron deficiency anemia, which is common in this age group.

Probiotics: Supporting a healthy gut is important for children’s overall well-being. Probiotic supplements can aid in maintaining a balanced gut microbiome.

Before taking any supplements, it’s important to consult with Phenix Health’s online healthcare professionals, ensuring that the chosen supplements are safe and appropriate for the individual’s age and health status. Additionally, regular check-ins with healthcare professionals can help adjust supplement regimens as needed, accounting for changes in health and nutritional requirements over time. Our team is experienced with patients of all ages and are available 24/7, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Conclusion

If you’re considering adding supplements to your regimen, make sure to check in with our telehealth team. We can help ensure that the supplements are appropriate for you and will not interact with any of your existing prescription medications or other over-the-counter medications. Our friendly team is available 24/7, and we even offer bulk-billing!