The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is recommending that consumers planning to go on a diet consult their pharmacist beforehand.

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APhA: Check with pharmacist before dieting

September 4th, 2012

WASHINGTON – The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is recommending that consumers planning to go on a diet consult their pharmacist beforehand.

APhA said Tuesday that it's a good idea for consumers beginning a new diet program to speak with their pharmacist, doctor or other health care professional to determine if there are any health risks with the regimen — especially if they are on any medications that could potentially have an interaction with the new diet.

During any one year, over half of Americans go on a diet to lose weight, according to WebMD. BAPhA noted that casual dieters may not check with a health care professional first and may not understand that their diet could affect their mood and energy or that their medications and supplements can interact with food.

Depending on the diet being followed, the body may experience a nutrition imbalance, APhA explained. A low carbohydrate diet may cause fatigue and a reduction in desire to exercise. Low-fat diets may create the need for dietary supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids or flaxseed oil. Instead of eating whole foods and fulfilling meals, some diets recommend participants take several vitamins and supplements, which is not recommended without a consultation with a health care provider.

All prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements have the potential to interact with each other, the food a person eats or the nutrients in those foods, APhA pointed out. Foods can also impact how a medication is absorbed or metabolized.

For example, APhA said, consumers who take certain medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety or depression may have to avoid the diet-friendly grapefruit and grapefruit juice because they interfere with the medication's absorption in the digestive track or metabolism by the liver and could cause dangerous side effects. Foods high in vitamin K, such as leafy greens, can impact the effectiveness of anticoagulant drugs. Dieters should also note that many medications are absorbed more quickly into the body on an empty stomach. Some are supposed to be taken that way, many are meant to be taken with food.

For those considering going on a diet, pharmacists can provide information on any medications they are taking; whether they should be taken with food, potential food or nutritional interactions; and whether those medications are having any impact on weight.
Pharmacists also can help consumers select appropriate dietary and nutritional supplements based upon the type of diet they're following and potential nutritional deficiencies that may result from that diet.

In addition, pharmacists can advise consumers about products being marketed over the counter for weight loss, their effectiveness and any potential food-drug interactions.
Pharmacists, too, can discuss the availability of prescription medications designed to help with weight loss, APhA added.