Joe and Teresa Graedon answer readers’ concerns. This week: assessing the accuracy of gummy-supplement labels; an old-fashioned treatment for hypothyroidism; and being aware of drug interactions.
Q: I always take my vitamins if they are gummies. I really like the sweetness. I am less apt to take supplements as capsules.
I might be persuaded to change if gummies aren’t as good for me. The four gummies I take are calcium, vitamin D-3, CoQ10 and a multivitamin. What do you think of gummy supplements?
A: One of the few organizations that test vitamins and other dietary supplements is ConsumerLab.com. After testing gummy multivitamins, it reported that “some gummy supplements — particularly gummy multivitamins — do not contain their listed amounts of vitamins or minerals, or contain impurities.”
It noted that 80 percent of the gummy products tested failed because they contained too much or too little of certain listed ingredients. You can find the full report at ConsumerLab.com. There is a subscription fee to access the full report.
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Q: For years I suffered with hypothyroidism. My doctors prescribed T4 drugs like Synthroid, Levothroid and generic levothyroxine, but I was still depressed. Also, I lost a lot of hair, including almost all my body hair.
T4 was not working well for me, so I asked for Armour Thyroid. After I started on that, the improvement was almost instantaneous.
Unfortunately, endocrinologists don’t like it. One even told me it was an antiquated treatment. I think it is a shame that so few doctors seem to appreciate the value of treating with both T3 and T4. I feel much better when I am on Armour Thyroid.
A: Hypothyroidism, caused by an underactive thyroid gland, is quite common. If your thyroid gland were functioning normally, it would produce both T4 (levothyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These are thyroid hormones that affect how every part of the body works. The numbers indicate how many atoms of iodine each contains.
In most people, body tissues are able to convert T4, which is inactive, into active T3 hormone by removing one iodine atom. Some individuals don’t do that efficiently, however. We suspect that these are the ones who feel better on a product with both T3 and T4 hormones.
Armour Thyroid is desiccated thyroid gland from pigs. It does provide T3 as well as T4. The endocrinologists are right that it is old-fashioned. That doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful for patients like you.
You can learn more about symptoms of hypothyroidism and its treatment, including desiccated thyroid, from our “Guide to Thyroid Hormones.” It is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q: I frequently read your warnings that there may be interactions among medicines. Two doctors prescribe medications for me: my primary-care doctor and my cardiologist. Although I ask, I don’t think either of them is very concerned about possible interactions. What can you tell me about metformin and glipizide for diabetes, along with Eliquis, amiodarone, ramipril, simvastatin and tamsulosin?
A: You are wise to be concerned. Many of your medications could interact with each other. The heart drug amiodarone could increase levels of simvastatin in your system. That could magnify the risk of muscle damage. Amiodarone also can increase levels of your prostate drug tamsulosin, which could lead to adverse reactions.
Ask your cardiologist about the potential for amiodarone to interact with the anticoagulant Eliquis (apixaban). Your pharmacist also should review all your medications for possible interactions.