Avoiding food and drug interactions
When taking a prescription or nonprescription medication:
• Read the label and all printed information
Nonprescription products print information on the package.
Prescription drugs generally come with information fact sheets and may have warning stickers on the container.
• Don’t mix medications into food unless advised
Acid or minerals in certain foods can alter some drug ingredients. Breaking apart pills can destroy special coatings that protect your stomach or the medication, or that create the time-release mechanism of some drugs (which allows slow, uniform absorption).
• Don’t mix medicine into hot beverages Heat can destroy or alter drug ingredients.
• Don’t consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice with medications
A substance found in grapefruit and its juice can alter the effects of several drugs, sometimes causing a buildup of medication, which could become toxic. One example is atorvastatin (Lipitor), which is used for high cholesterol.
• Avoid alcohol
Alcohol can increase or reduce a drug’s effects or increase side effects.
• Don’t take a vitamin and mineral supplement or antacids at the same time as your medication unless your doctor approves
Some nutrients can bind with drug ingredients, reducing their absorption and limiting their effectiveness.
• Tell your doctor if you’re taking herbal supplements
Many herbal supplements have known interactions with medications, and others haven’t been thoroughly tested for interactions. While you’re on medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist before adding herbal supplements.
• Take medication as recommended
Some drugs are better absorbed with food to reduce the risk of stomach irritation or upset. Other drugs may be better absorbed when taken with a full glass of water an hour or two before meals. Follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions.