Vitamins may be needed with some long-term medicines


Some medicines taken for many years can lower the amount of some nutrients and vitamins in the body. By being aware of these long-term side effects, early action can be taken to prevent future health problems.

We received a report about a person who developed severe osteoporosis (a condition that can weaken bones) after taking the anti-seizure medicine phenobarbital for more than 30 years. Long-term use of this medicine can change the way the body uses vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to help the body take up calcium, which is needed for strong bones. Because the person was not aware of this long-term side effect when taking phenobarbital, they did not take any extra vitamin D or calcium. As a result, there was an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture.

Here’s what you can do: If you take any long-term medicines, follow these recommendations to lower the risk of future health problems caused by the loss of nutrients or vitamins:

• Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about any long-term side effects of your medicines.
• If you know that one of your medicines can lower the level of nutrients and/or vitamins in your body, speak to your healthcare provider about what supplements you may need to take.
• Ask your healthcare provider if you need to have regular blood tests for early detection of side effects.

Created on August 16, 2021

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