The four drinks that could make your vitamins, minerals and antibiotics ineffective

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Oral administration is the easiest and most common way to take medications, so why are so many of us getting it wrong? While swallowing vitamins, minerals and antibiotics might seem straightforward, the way you choose to flush them into your system could make them ineffective. Taking over the counter and prescribed medications properly should always start with a simple read of the instructions, but what else should you do to maximise the health benefits? Express.co.uk spoke to Shona Wilkinson, Registered nutritionist consultant at Nutrigums to find out.

Taking oral medication is a part of everyday life for the majority of Britons, whether it be a vitamin tablet or daily medication used to control a long-term condition.

While some pharmaceutical products will have specific warnings regarding the use of food or alcohol while taking them, most products offer more vague advice.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Registered nutritionist consultant Shona Wilkinson said: “If you don’t take over-the-counter supplements how they are described, this might affect how well you absorb the nutrients in supplements, meaning you might not see the desired results.

“With medication, you should always take GP advice and follow the instructions labelled in order to reduce any side effects such as stomach irritation and any other more serious side effects.”

Which drinks should be avoided while swallowing medication?

A swig of water is the obvious choice when it comes to swallowing oral medication, but how can other drinks affect how well your supplements work?

Tea and coffee

According to Shona, something as simple as drinking your daily vitamins with your morning coffee could make them completely useless to your body for two main reasons:

  • Heat and nutrients don’t mix

Heat is known to destroy nutrients, so the hot water in your tea and coffee should be a no-go when it comes to taking your vitamin tablets.

  • Tannins can make vitamins harder to absorb

Tannins and caffeine can interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals especially, Iron and Vitamin D as it is thought to reduce the expression of receptors.

Shona added: “Caffeine also has a mild diuretic effect, which leads to an increase in urination.

“As a result, water-soluble vitamins, such as B-Vitamins and Vitamin C can be depleted due to fluid loss.”

Instead, you should always take your daily dose of vitamin supplements in the morning with a glass of water.

If you’re not a fan of water, Shona recommends taking iron supplements with orange juice – Vitamin C helps the body to absorb the mineral.

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Probiotics

Probiotic drinks such as kombucha and yoghurt shots can have a severe impact on the effectiveness of antibiotics.

While these products are great for your gut health, it is best to stay off them while on a course of prescribed antibiotics such as penicillins or cephalosporins.

Shona said: “As both are bacteria, they can kill each other if taken closely together.

“Probiotics like drinkable yoghurts should be taken away from antibiotics (at least two hours apart) to ensure their effectiveness.”

Adding probiotics to your diet is a great way to:

  • Maintain gut microbiome health
  • Replenish the gut with beneficial bacteria
  • Rebalance the gut microbiome
  • All of which are crucial to maintaining good overall health.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol while taking oral vitamin supplements such as folic acid, zinc, thiamin, and vitamin B1 will prevent the body from absorbing these essential nutrients and minerals.

According to Keeley Berry, a nutrition expert at Better You, B-vitamins are most at risk of depletion and those that have a high alcohol consumption are very likely to become deficient.

Keeley told Express.co.uk: “Vitamin B12 in particular, is known to support cognitive function, making us feel switched-on and able to focus.

“So, as alcohol consumption contributes to the depletion of B12 in the body, we can begin to feel what’s known as ‘brain fog’.”

While taking vitamins with alcohol will make your supplements ineffective, the effects of alcohol with antibiotics can be much worse.

Shona said: “You should generally not drink alcohol with antibiotics as this can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

“In more serious cases some antibiotics can cause a reaction such as nausea and vomiting so I would strongly advise against mixing alcohol when on medication such as this.”

What is the most effective way to take vitamins and minerals?

Oral supplements can be highly effective when taken correctly, but is it really the best way to increase your intake?

Shona said: “We always say food first but sometimes you just don’t get enough nutrients through food alone.

“There are many instances where people are deficient – for instance, women often suffer from anemia due to the loss of red blood cells during the menstrual cycle – this can require suitable iron intake to ensure you don’t suffer from the long-term effects of fatigue, low blood pressure, and pale skin.”

Many people who follow a plant-based diet find themselves short on essential vitamins such as iron and Vitamin B12, which are found in eggs and meat, so a plant-based supplement can help them to source this elsewhere.

Shona added: “It is advisable to take a multivitamin and mineral regularly as well as a Vitamin D supplement in winter, and depending on any health condition you want to address, you can add on to these.”

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