Can You Take Vitamins With Antibiotics?

The body relies on numerous vitamins and minerals to function correctly, regulating everything from hormone production to blood clotting to immune function. Knowing how crucial certain vitamins and minerals are, their supplementation is a common topic within the medical space. 

However, is taking vitamin and mineral supplements safe while on antibiotics? This answer is more complex than yes or no, as it depends on the antibiotic and the vitamin/mineral. Some antibiotics and vitamins work well together, whereas others can inhibit the activity of each other. In short, if you want to take a supplement while on antibiotics, check with your doctor to monitor for possible interactions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Antibiotics can influence how well the body absorbs certain vitamins and minerals, and some vitamins/minerals may reduce antibiotic effectiveness.
  • Supplementation may be recommended during antibiotic usage to counteract antibiotic side effects or improve overall wellness.
  • When considering a vitamin/mineral while on antibiotics, it is vital to check for the interactions of each supplement with your specific antibiotic.

Table of Contents

Potential Interactions Between Vitamins, Minerals, and Antibiotics

The interactions between vitamins and antibiotics extend in both directions––your supplement may make the antibiotic less effective, or the antibiotic may affect how your body absorbs specific vitamins and minerals. Conversely, no interaction may happen at all or a positive result may occur, it entirely depends on the antibiotic/supplement pairing.

Let’s explore some of the possible interactions between vitamins, minerals, and antibiotics. 

Your Antibiotic Becomes Less (or More) Effective

Sometimes, the supplement you take may make your antibiotic less effective. This likely has to do with your supplement’s influence on how much of the antibiotic is absorbed—if your body doesn’t absorb the antibiotic, there is less of the antibiotic in your body, and it becomes less effective. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some supplements, when combined with an antibiotic, may cause quicker absorption of the medication. This can result in higher serum levels of the antibiotic, which can cause unpleasant side effects. 

Depleted Vitamins and Minerals

Sometimes, the antibiotic you take may reduce your body’s absorption of certain vitamins or minerals from your diet. In these cases, you may need to take a supplement in order to help increase your levels. 

Suppresses Inflammation

Not all interactions between vitamins and antibiotics are harmful. For example, taking a large amount of niacinamide, a type of vitamin B3, while on tetracycline can help suppress inflammation. Still, some vitamins and minerals can make tetracycline less effective, so it’s always important to check each supplement you take against your antibiotic. If you’re ever unsure, your doctor can provide all the guidance you need. 

Reduces Bleeding

Some antibiotics can cause excessive bleeding, but vitamin K can help. This is because vitamin K helps to make the proteins needed for blood clotting, which can help prevent excessive bleeding. If you are taking an antibiotic with a risk of excessive bleeding, taking it alongside vitamin K may help to reduce the risk of this side effect. However, like all other situations, be sure to check with your doctor first.

Antibiotics and Vitamins to Avoid Taking Together

Not all antibiotics interact with supplements, so it is always best to check the drug interactions list for any antibiotic you take. 

Listed below are some interactions:

  • Cephalosporins (Cefdinir, cephalexin): Vitamin K
  • Amoxicillin: Vitamin K, bromelain
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole: PABA, folate, white willow, potassium, St. John’s wort, magnesium, zinc
  • Tetracyclines (doxycycline, tetracycline hydrochloride): magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, St. John’s wort, Dong Quai, citrate
  • Fluoroquinolones (levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin): magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, Dong Quai, fennel St. John’s wort

It’s important to note that just because a supplement is listed above does not mean it should be avoided when taking all medications. For example, Vitamin K, while it interacts with cephalosporins and amoxicillin, can be a helpful addition when taking probiotics. Because of this, it is always best to look into each antibiotic you take and note that the interactions of one medication do not reflect the interactions of them all. 

How to Safely Take Vitamins With Antibiotics?

It’s always best to inform your doctor if you take vitamins or mineral supplements. That way, should you be prescribed an antibiotic, they can tell you if you need to stop taking the supplement for the duration of your antibiotic prescription to ensure the medication works as intended and does not produce any unpleasant side effects. 

Furthermore, when taking vitamins alongside your antibiotics, it is crucial to check for potential interactions between your antibiotic and each vitamin or mineral you are supplementing with. Some can help improve your health, whereas others may make the antibiotic ineffective or result in adverse events. 

Sometimes, it’s more than just supplements you need to be aware of, with some antibiotics unable to be taken alongside certain foods because of their vitamin/mineral content. In these cases, you will need to avoid eating the specified foods within a certain time of taking your antibiotic; the specific rules will vary based on the antibiotic, so be sure to check your prescription label.

As with all antibiotic prescriptions, it is crucial to follow the instructions provided to you by your doctor, including the dosage amount, dosing schedule, and whether or not the antibiotic can or should be taken with food. Furthermore, if there are any foods to avoid, such as dairy products, because of the calcium they contain, your doctor will also inform you of this. To offer your antibiotic the greatest opportunity to work, you must follow these instructions. 

In Conclusion

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for the processes your body completes to grow, develop, and stay healthy. However, they don’t always mix well with antibiotics. Sometimes, the vitamin/mineral can make the antibiotic less effective, or the antibiotic may keep your body from properly absorbing the vitamin/mineral. Still, in some cases, vitamins/ minerals are beneficial to take with antibiotics.

When prescribed an antibiotic, you should check with your doctor about any possible interactions, including with supplements. You can also ask them if there are any vitamins/minerals that would be good to take alongside your prescribed antibiotic to address vitamin/mineral depletion or possible side effects of the antibiotic. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Antibiotics can influence how well the body absorbs certain vitamins and minerals, and some vitamins/minerals may reduce antibiotic effectiveness.
  • Supplementation may be recommended during antibiotic usage to counteract antibiotic side effects or improve patient wellness.
  • When considering a vitamin/mineral while on antibiotics, it is vital to check for the interactions of each supplement with your specific antibiotic.

Sources:

  • Zelis, M., Zweegman, S., van der Meer, F. J., Kramer, M. H., & Smulders, Y. M. (2008). De interactie tussen antistollingstherapie met vitamine K-antagonisten en behandeling met antibiotica: een praktische aanbeveling [The interaction between anticoagulant therapy with vitamin K-antagonists and treatment with antibiotics: a practical recommendation]. Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde, 152(18), 1042–1046, PMID: 18547025.
  • Dozal, A., Keyzer, H., Kim, H. K., & Wang, W. W. (2000). Charge transfer complexes of K vitamins with several classes of antimicrobials. International journal of antimicrobial agents, 14(3), 261–265. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0924-8579(99)00163-6 
  • Mizera, L., Geisler, T., Mörike, K., Gawaz, M., & Steeg, M. (2018). Problems in anticoagulation of a patient with antibiotic treatment for endocarditis: interaction of rifampicin and vitamin K antagonists. BMJ case reports, 2018, bcr2016215155. https://doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2016-215155 
  • Naguib, M. M., & Valvano, M. A. (2018). Vitamin E Increases Antimicrobial Sensitivity by Inhibiting Bacterial Lipocalin Antibiotic Binding. mSphere, 3(6), e00564-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00564-18 
  • Pai, M. P., Momary, K. M., & Rodvold, K. A. (2006). Antibiotic drug interactions. The Medical clinics of North America, 90(6), 1223–1255. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2006.06.008 
  • Patel P, Wermuth HR, Calhoun C, et al. Antibiotics. [Updated 2023 May 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535443/

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

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