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Sometimes They Cancel Each Other Out : Interaction Between Drugs, Nutrients

December 05, 1985

If you must take prescribed medications and your diet is not properly balanced, you may be depleting nutrients necessary for staying healthy, the California Dietetic Assn. warns.

"The human body is like a chemistry lab, with different chemicals, such as medicines and the nutrients in food, having different influence on the body when mixed together," says Cheryl Loggins, a registered dietitian and president of the association. "And sometimes those effects interact and cancel one another out."

These results may surface as nutrient deficiencies and lowered effectiveness of the medication.

Common Interactions

Some common drug-nutrient interactions include the following: Diuretics used to combat high blood pressure can cause Vitamin B-6 deficiencies; prolonged use of some antacids can reduce the body's ability to absorb iron and Vitamin C; some medications used in the treatment of epilepsy can produce a scarcity of folacin, and some medications used to treat diabetes can result in a deficiency of Vitamin B-12.

To combat these pitfalls, Loggins recommends eating a balanced diet consisting of foods from the four nutrient-based food groups: milk, meat, vegetables and fruits, and breads and cereals.

Milk group foods, including low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt, provide calcium, riboflavin and vitamins B-6 and B-12. Children, teen-agers and pregnant women need four milk group servings a day. Adults need at least two milk group servings daily.

Nutrients From Meat

Meat and meat alternates, including eggs, beans and peas, offer protein, niacin, thiamine, Vitamin B-12 and iron. Adults and children need two servings from the meat group daily, and pregnant women need three servings.

Vitamins A and C and folacin are the nutrients provided by the vegetables-fruits group. All adults and children need at least four servings from this group each day.

The bread-cereal group offers thiamine, niacin, iron and fiber. Four daily servings are recommended for all adults and children.

"Consuming the recommended number of servings provides all the nutrients a body needs to stay healthy and active and can help curb effects of the body's chemical reaction to certain medicines," Loggins says. "But always ask your physician or pharmacist about any dietary implications when a medicine is prescribed."

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