What to know before taking vitamins or supplements

Published on Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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(c) Puhhha - Fotolia.com

(c) Puhhha - Fotolia.com


As Americans look to improve their health, many will turn to vitamins and supplements as part of their healthier routines. However, experts stress the importance of understanding the potential interactions supplements can have with medications and some brands of medical test results.

One notable example is Vitamin B7, also commonly known as biotin, which is frequently the top selling supplement online, and found in a number of multivitamins. Among its many benefits, biotin can help keep your eyes, liver and nervous system healthy, as well as contribute to healthy skin, hair and nails. Some doctors are recommending using biotin to help with multiple sclerosis and diabetes, too.

It's important to research side effects or ask your doctor about them before taking any supplement. For example, while biotin supplements are not associated with any side effects, taking biotin can affect certain brands of blood test results, which can lead to a misdiagnosis or unnecessary treatments for heart disease, thyroid conditions, breast cancer, pregnancy and fertility.

"If you take a multivitamin, biotin supplements or pre-natal vitamins, be sure to talk to your doctor before your next blood test, so that he or she can ensure the lab uses a test that is not affected by biotin," says Ramani Wonderling, PhD, associate director for scientific relations in diagnostics at Abbott, a global healthcare company.

Dr. Wonderling advises patients to ask their doctors the following questions.

  • Will the tests you order be impacted by my taking biotin?
  • I prefer not to stop taking my supplements. Can you use a blood test that is not impacted by my taking biotin supplements?

Wonderling also advises that those who take supplements read labels carefully and do their own research about supplement brands, for optimum safety and health benefits. To learn more about supplements, biotin and blood tests, visit abbott.com/biotin.

'Taking supplements can be an effective way to fill nutritional gaps,' says Wonderling. 'But before embarking on a regimen, be sure you understand all the possible effects of each supplement you take.'



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