Do I Need to Take Additional Fiber if I'm Already Taking Other Types of Dietary Supplements?

Find out if you need additional fiber if you're already taking other types of dietary supplements. Learn about potential interactions between fiber supplements and medications.

Do I Need to Take Additional Fiber if I'm Already Taking Other Types of Dietary Supplements?

If you take tricyclic medications, it is essential to consult your doctor before taking fiber supplements or increasing your dietary fiber intake. There is no proof that daily use of fiber supplements such as psyllium (Metamucil, Konsyl, and others) or methylcellulose (Citrucel) is harmful. But how do you take fiber supplements? It depends on whether the supplement comes in pill form (taken with a glass of water) or as a powder (mixed in a glass of water and consumed once it dissolves). In either case, it is important to drink plenty of water or caffeine-free beverages throughout the day to avoid any digestive discomfort.

When taking any supplement, it is important to consider if any other product or element in your diet could have a negative effect on its use. For instance, it is recommended to avoid calcium and polyphenols when taking an iron supplement, as they can inhibit the absorption of heme and non-heme iron. Another example that many people know about is the interaction of grapefruit juices with many active ingredients (depending on their effect on enzymes in the cytochrome P-450 family). Studies have also demonstrated that a high-fiber diet can help prevent type 2 diabetes, lower insulin and blood sugar levels, and improve cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels in people with diabetes.

Fiber supplements can reduce the absorption of certain medications, such as aspirin, carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, and others), and others. If you have intestinal problems, such as a history of bowel obstruction or Crohn's disease, it is essential to talk to your doctor before adding a fiber supplement to your diet. Additionally, keep in mind that fiber can interfere with absorption, so you should take a fiber supplement separately from any medication or other supplement. In general, fibers offer vital benefits, such as facilitating the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract and many other functions, such as maintaining healthy levels of lipids in the blood.

People with esophageal stenosis (narrowing of the esophagus) or any other narrowing or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract should not take fiber supplements. If weight management is important to you, eating fiber with breakfast, lunch and dinner can make you feel fuller and more satisfied. Soluble fiber is found in dried beans and peas, oats, barley, legumes, fruits, flaxseed, and psyllium seed shells. However, most large-scale clinical studies show only a small association between the amount of fiber people eat and their risk of colorectal cancer. A supplement can be useful for those with specific needs or even for those who want some additional benefits to improve their gut health, including but not limited to fat loss.

To minimize these problems, start by taking small amounts of the fiber supplement and drinking plenty of fluids every day.