Advise Patients On Five Tips When Consuming Vitamins, Supplements, Energy Drinks

Advise Patients On Five Tips When Consuming Vitamins, Supplements, Energy Drinks

A new year usually summons health resolutions – healthier eating habits, going back to the gym, and reintroducing vitamins and supplements into diets. All of these plans can mean potentially increasing energy drink consumption to fuel our renewed health goals.

As pharmacists, the new year is a terrific time to remind our patients of potential drug interactions they may encounter as they refocus their health care journeys and incorporate vitamins, supplements, protein powders, and likely more caffeine into their daily routines. It’s also a great time to highlight cost-savings opportunities by eliminating duplicative ingredients.

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Advise Patients On Five Tips When Consuming Vitamins, Supplements, Energy Drinks

Drug interactions between OTC supplements and prescription medications is often not top of mind for the tens of millions of Americans taking dietary supplements alongside their prescription medications.1 However, the use of dietary supplements in the United States is projected to increase.2

According to Statista, by 2024, the dietary supplement market is expected to be valued at $56.7 billion.2 In addition, sales of energy drinks and protein supplements in the United States have also increased. From 2011-22, the US has seen sales of energy drinks grow 13.7% (valued at an estimated $14 billion).3 By 2029, the protein supplement market is expected to grow about 10%, to be valued at about $16 billion.4

As a pharmacist, here are 5 tips I share with my patients this time of year as they set health goals:

  • Be mindful of your prescription medications. There are several OTC supplements that are known to interact with prescription medications. For example, the herbal supplement St. John’s wort, which is commonly used to increase serotonin, can reduce the effectiveness of birth control, as well as medications for heart disease and depression, among others. The Food and Drug Administration also notes that supplements such as ginkgo biloba and vitamin E can interact with prescription blood thinners.1 Even OTC pain medications such as ibuprofen may cause more harm than good if you have gastrointestinal issues. It’s important for patients to review their complete list of medications (both OTC and prescription) with a pharmacist annually to avoid harmful interactions.
  • Review ingredients before purchasing or consuming products. Smoothies and tonics you pick up at the gym after your workout often contain multiple supplements—collagen, protein, vitamins B and C, etc. Be mindful of how much you are consuming of each throughout the day. Too much of any one item can lead to unintended consequences, such as gastrointestinal issues.
  • Be aware of caffeine consumption. Energy drinks often contain high levels of caffeine. For reference, an 8 oz cup of coffee contains up to 100 mg of caffeine, while 8 ounces of an energy drink may contain up to 250 milligrams of caffeine, according to the FDA.5 The FDA says for healthy adults, you should cap your caffeine intake at 400 milligrams a day. Too much caffeine can reduce your ability to properly absorb your medications.6
  • Identify protein needs. Protein is essential in our diets, but too much protein is linked to constipation, diarrhea, and bad breath. The Mayo Clinic recommends that those who exercise regularly need about 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.7
  • Set a budget.The average cost of an energy/sport drink in the US is about $7.8 That means consumers who have at least one energy drink a day spend more than $2,500 annually, and that doesn’t factor in thousands more that are also spent annually on vitamins, supplements, and protein supplements. To increase safety and reduce costs, consider eliminating items that are repetitive. For example, if you’re getting caffeine in your coffee, maybe eliminate your energy drink. If you’re getting vitamin B in your daily multi-vitamin, think about eliminating it from your smoothie.

By offering personalized guidance, promoting awareness, and fostering open communication, pharmacists can empower their patients to navigate the new year with a focus on both wellness and safety.

About the Author

Ami Bhatt, PharmD, MBA, SPHR, is the Staff Vice President of Clinical Pharmacy Services at CarelonRx.

References

  1. FDA. Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health. June 2, 2022. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/mixing-medications-and-dietary-supplements-can-endanger-your-health
  2. Statista. Total US dietary supplements market size from 2016 to 2024. April 2018. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.statista.com/statistics/828481/total-dietary-supplements-market-size-in-the-us/
  3. Statista. Energy drinks market in the US – statistics & facts. December 18, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.statista.com/topics/1687/energy-drinks/#topicOverview
  4. US Protein Supplements Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Product (Protein Powder, RTD, Protein Bars, and Others), By Source (Plant-based and Animal-based), By Distribution Channel (Specialty Retailers, Online Stores, and Others), and Country Forecast, 2022-2029. Fortune Business Insights. February 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/u-s-protein-supplements-market-107171
  5. FDA. Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much? September 7, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
  6. Belayneh A, Molla F. The effect of coffee on pharmacokinetic properties of drugs: a review. Biomed Res Int. 2020;2020:7909703. doi:10.1155/2020.7909703
  7. Wempen K. Are you getting too much protein? Mayo Clinic. April 29, 2022. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/are-you-getting-too-much-protein
  8. Statista. Average energy & sports drinks price Worldwide 2015-2027. May 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1345672/price-per-unit-energy-drinks-worldwide/