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Suzy Cohen: Are you taking your medications correctly? Check with these tips

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Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015 11:36 am

We are better off getting our nutrients from healthy foods and beverages, but dietary supplements can fill a nutritional gap. It’s confusing to know when you should take certain nutrients, especially the minerals which can bind or “chelate” with a lot of different medications. It’s also difficult to time your supplements around meals and medications.

Over the years, I’ve used my own vitamin list to help me remember when and how to take supplements. I think it could help you, especially if you have to take a lot of different things. You can download my form for free at my website and fill in the blanks with your own supplements. This cheat sheet will help you stay on track.

As a pharmacist, it’s kind of in my blood to ‘approach with caution’ and I don’t necessarily mean pharmaceuticals. Supplements (the high quality ones that really work) will act in your body exactly like a drug and the timing impacts efficacy. Before you embark on any supplement regimen, I suggest you ask a holistic-minded practitioner what is right for you with consideration to your allergies, your liver, kidney function and even genetic mutations.

By learning all you can about vitamins and minerals you can make better choices about dosages. There are times when I need to dump out 50 percent of one capsule to get a lower dose, and other times I will take more than what is typically recommended. We are all very unique.

Today I will teach you more about timing your medications and supplements so you can optimize effect and minimize risk. Taking some medicines too late in the day will make you wide-eyed at 3 a.m.! Interactions with minerals can defeat the purpose of taking medications. Since there are thousands of medications and supplements, I obviously can’t cover them all but I’ll hit the big categories. When you’re done reading today’s column, visit my website ( and sign up for my newsletter so you will receive the longer version of this article, along with a sample “Vitamin List,” which you can adapt and use for your own regimen.

Medicines and supplements that are best taken in the morning:

  • Thyroid medication
  • Modafinil (Provigil)
  • Stimulants (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderal)
  • Diuretics like HCTZ, furosemide, dandelion, berberine, neem, green tea
  • Osteoporosis drugs (Boniva, Fosamax, etc)

Medicines and supplements that are best taken with food:

  • Mineral supplements (iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron)
  • Vitamin A, D, E or K (fat-soluble vitamins)
  • Anti-fungals
  • CoQ10
  • Probiotics can usually be taken anytime

Medicines and supplements that are best taken in the evening or bedtime:

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Aspirin
  • Magnesium
  • Ashwagandha
  • Goto kola
  • Skullcap
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Statin cholesterol reducers
  • ACE inhibitors (like enalapril)
  • ARB class of blood pressure pills (candesartan, etc)

Do NOT combine:

  • Vitamin K or ginkgo with anticoagulants
  • Folate with methotrexate or phenytoin
  • Minerals or dairy foods with minocycline or doxycycline
  • Grapefruit or pomegranate foods/supplements with statins
  • Chocolate with Nardil
  • Licorice extract with digoxin or HCTZ
  • HCTZ with vitamin D (raises calcium too much)
  • 5-HTP with any antidepressant
  • St John’s wort with any antidepressant

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her website at



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