Drug-nutrient interactions in older persons

With advancing years, the use of medication and the incidence of polypharmacy (the concomitant use of multiple drugs) increase considerably in the population. Drug-nutrient interactions are a relatively unexplored category of adverse drug reactions in older persons. However, they clearly contribute to nutrient deficiencies in a population that is already at an increased risk of malnutrition.

Polypharmacy, defined as the concomitant use of five or more drugs, is a major determinant of health risk in elderly people. Among adverse drug reactions (ADRs), drug-nutrient interactions are still receiving relatively little attention. However, evidence suggests that drug use is directly or indirectly associated with nutrient deficiencies in older persons. Remarkably, drug-nutrient interactions often remain unnoticed or are mistaken for apparently unavoidable side-effects. Our research line within the Division of Human Nutrition specifically addresses the associations and causal relationships between drug-use (specific drugs and polypharmacy) and micronutrient deficiencies in geriatric patients. It is carried out in close collaboration with the hospital Gelderse Vallei in Ede. More knowledge on this topic not only improves predictability of health risks, but also allows timely prevention of these often preventable ADRs.

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