Food and Drug Interactions – Some surprised me.

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Most people are very careful when starting medications to watch for possible problems with current medications.  Pharmacies automatically check for interactions if you stay with only one pharmacy.  But what about reactions between your meds and your food or drink?

How to avoid food and drug interactions

Below is a list of COMMON food-medication interactions for blood pressure, for instance – and common food ingredients, like calcium or grapefruit.  But, there are many more.  As always, talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.

Who knew that salads could be bad with blood thinners?

Taking medications such as warfarin or  Coumadin ® in combination with large amount foods high in vitamin K – such as leafy greens – may cause the medication to not work as well. Watch the amount of this type of food you are eating to get the best results with blood thinners..

Alcohol and some medications can be toxic

Avoid taking massive doses of Tylenol and Tylenol-containing products with alcohol, as it may result in liver toxicity. Avoid taking metronidazole for infections with alcohol, which may result in flushing, vomiting, and increased heart rate.

Don’t take antidepressant, arrhythmia, transplant, seizure, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol medications with grapefruit juice.  

Studies have shown that mixing certain medications with grapefruit juice can cause dangerously high blood levels, which leads to an increase of potentially life-threatening side effects. These medications include

  • Lipitor ®
  • Zocor ®
  • Plendil ®
  • Valium ®
  • Tegretol ®
  • Pacerone ®
  • Prograf ®

Potential potassium overdose

When taking ACE-inhibitors like Altace ® or lisinopril and potassium diuretics – such as spironolactone or triamterene – be careful when eating foods rich in potassium such as bananas, apricots, raisins, and lima beans. The combination causes the body to retain too much potassium.

(I did not know the above one and encouraged mom to eat a banana a day while she was on spironolactone and diuretics.)

Osteoporosis medications and some antibiotics shouldn’t be taken with calcium

Taking osteoporosis medications and some antibiotics with calcium-fortified foods and drinks such as milk, orange juice, bread or antacids will make the medications less effective. Be sure to take your medication two hours before or four hours after eating calcium-rich foods and drinks. Aspirin and other over-the-counter pain medications taken without food can cause stomach bleeding.

Never take aspirin on an empty stomach

Aspirin and other over-the-counter pain medications taken without food can cause stomach bleeding.

Thyroid Medication

Certain thyroid medications cannot be taken at the same time as calcium, grapefruit juice, magnesium, antacids as it will change the result.

There is a great site to type in the drug names and see what interactions there are.  It can be as simple as juice causing problems.  Check out all the drugs your loved one is taking to see if you need to set up the medication differently based on which ones can go together.

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What drug interactions have you learned?  Let us know.


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