It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Questions about ordering? Click here to read the FAQ.
*Book price: $19.95 + $5.95 shipping within the United States. We are happy to accept personal checks drawn on a US bank for delivery within the United States only. Download the order form. We regret that we are unable to process orders by phone or ship printed books outside the United States.
Find out the exact amount of Vitamin K (in micrograms) of almost a thousand common foods! Listed both alphabetically and then in order of the amount of Vitamin K in the food, this downloadable list will help you know exactly how much Vitamin K you're eating. Just $4.95 for the eBook or $12.95 for the paperback book! Shop now!
My question to you is not about foods containing Vitamin K but rather the use of nutritional supplements while on medication. I am not only taking warfarin due to two incidents of DVT and being Factor V Leiden Mutation positive, but also:
1) Hydrochlorot and Diovan for blood pressure
2) Actos and Metformin for Type II Diabetes
3) Vytorin for cholesterol
I want to get as healthy as I can with natural alternatives, perhaps even eliminating the need for these medications. I am 41, overweight and a non-smoker/non-drinker.
Can you provide any insight into which supplements would be beneficial and which I should absolutely avoid? I have some specific examples in mind. What do you think of the following?
1) Rhodiola Rosea
2) Aralia Mandshurica
3) Georgian Pomegranate
4) Caucasian Bilberry
You should absolutely avoid such supplements while taking warfarin. There is very little solid research done on supplements and you are putting yourself at very high risk by taking them along with your Coumadin®. There is with the other medications you are taking as well. While there are specific reports about bilberry having interactions with warfarin, it is more complicated than simply whether a specific supplement will cause a problem for you.
Because there is little regulation of the supplement industry, you are never completely sure of what you are getting. Just because the label says bilberry doesn't mean that there are not other supplements contained in the pill you take. Likewise, the source of these products, the quality and the potency varies widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. I recommend that my patients absolutely avoid such "natural" alternatives.
The best natural alternative for you is to discuss a plan with your physician for diet and exercise to help you lose weight. At 41, with the health problems that you have, you want to be in top form. The evidence for the positive effect on health and longevity of eating a lower calorie diet and exercise is compelling. You can read about many such studies on my website in the Dr. Tim Says... and the Health and Nutrition Bites sections.
Because you have more complex medical issues, including diabetes, it is very important for you to craft a plan that helps you lose weight slowly and carefully. Speak with your doctor about seeing the dietitian for the correct number of calories to help you eat better. You can also discuss with your physician beginning an exercise program.
The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan interactive meal planner on my website conforms to the guidelines of the American Heart Association, and the recipes and meal plans may help you and your dietitian get you where you want to be.
Supplements are not a healthy alternative for you. A change in lifestyle is.
Thanks for writing.
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP