Picture of various colored pills

Time to limit the pills

Here is something you should all try to do or change in this New Year, if possible, and with the help of your Family Doctor: Count the amount of pills, vitamins, herbs and supplements you take regularly and your resolution should be to REDUCE this amount.

You can start by avoiding online offers or buying through pharmacies things that are not really necessary for your quality of life. More often than not they can be harmful. Instead, bring all you take (or list) to your doctor and discuss each one. A lot of the supplements and vitamins we take is due to marketing hype geared to the vulnerable. 

Your doctor can tell you if you have any deficiency that can be helped with these, if not you can create an overload in your body. For example:

  • Too much calcium can produce kidney stones
  • Prolonged use of Omeprazole and similar over the counter anti-reflux medications, such as Nexium and others, can cause a deficiency in Vitamin B and reduce calcium absorption (risk of hip fracture). It can also cause a serious digestive infection with a bacteria called Clostridium difficile which can be devastating and become chronic. If you must take these medicines, your doctor will check your Vitamin B levels at least on a yearly schedule.
  • Inappropriate use of statins such as atorvastatin, (Lipitor) can precipitate pre-diabetic state not to mention liver dysfunction and muscle aches. There are now new parameters to calculate cardiovascular risks, rather than just basing it on the level of LDL cholesterol as before.
  • Many patients ask for antibiotics and most are not necessary. Viral infections do not need to be dealt with by antibiotics and most respiratory infections are caused by viruses. The treatment in these cases are rest and hydration and perhaps antipyretics (acetaminophen) for fever. C.difficile is notoriously present after a course of certain antibiotics. I usually recommend a probiotic if I prescribe an antibiotic to replenish the natural gut flora.

So go and talk to your doctor and bring down your numbers……of pills.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Hippocrates

Dr Albert Levy, 911 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10075