4 food and drug interactions seniors should know about

From blood thinners and pain killers to corticosteroids and more, many seniors take prescription medication to deal with age-related ailments. At the same time, some might also be taking additional vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medications. And while the additional medication may seem harmless, some can actually cause negative effects when taken in conjunction with prescription medication.

Here are four of the most important drug and food interactions seniors should be aware of.
1. Herbal supplements
Possibly the most notorious drug interactions are from herbal supplements. Since herbal supplements are largely unregulated, the dosages differ from brand to brand, and can even be different from box to box. Some supplements are particularly problematic, such as St. John’s Wort, ginkgo biloba, goldenseal, kava, ephedra, and garlic. These can affect the proper functioning of prescription drugs, including but not limited to, high blood pressure medications, anticoagulants, diabetes medications, heart medications, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Seniors taking drugs that affect the liver should be particularly cautious when taking herbal supplements.
2. Grapefruit juice
While seemingly a harmless and healthy drink, grapefruit juice can affect the functioning of enzymes, which in turn affects the proper functioning of medications such as certain anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, calcium channel blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs, and pain medications among others.
3. Vitamin K and Vitamin E
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale are high in Vitamins K and E. These vitamins are known to produce blood-clotting substances that can reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulant medication. As a result, seniors on anticoagulant medication should be very careful about their diets.
4. Zinc and Echinacea
Supplements such as zinc and Echinacea are known to boost the immune system. And while a strong immune system is vital in most cases, some seniors require their immune systems to be suppressed due to certain medical issues. Corticosteroids and cyclosporine are common immunosuppressants that can be negatively affected by the simultaneous intake of zinc and Echinacea. Echinacea is also not recommended for seniors who suffer from liver issues.
At Totalcare, our highly qualified medical staff understand the effect that certain foods and supplements can have on various medications. By carefully monitoring all residents, we ensure that they receive the ideal balanced diet and supplementary medication to maintain health and wellbeing.

While additional medication such as herbal supplements and vitamins may seem harmless, they can actually have some worrying effects when taken with prescription medication. Here are four of the most important drug and food interactions seniors should be aware of.