Food & drug interactions

Foods and drugs interaction

There's a lot that demands your attention when you're managing medications for yourself or another person — including correctly administering medications and avoiding interactions.

It's not something talked about much, but interactions between food and medications can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor for individualized medical guidance and before making any changes to medications or diet.

How to avoid food and drug interactions

The food-medication interactions below include both common medications — for blood pressure, for instance — and common food ingredients, like calcium or grapefruit.

Avoid taking MAO inhibitors with foods containing tyramine

Avoid taking MAO inhibitors — such as Marplan® or Eldepryl® — with foods that contain tyramine. The combination can cause extremely high blood pressure, fever, and in rare circumstances, death. These foods include:

  • aged cheese
  • chianti wines
  • chicken liver
  • venison
  • sauerkraut
  • aged sausages like pepperoni and salami

Blood thinners and leafy greens could be a bad combination

Taking medications such as warfarin, Coumadin®, or Jantoven® in combination with large portions of foods high in vitamin K — such as leafy greens — may cause the medication to be less effective. Eat these foods moderately and consistently to provide maximum medication effectiveness.

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.

Avoid taking 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®

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 may reduce the effectiveness of these medications. Try to take your medication 2 hours before or 4 hours after eating calcium-rich foods and drinks.

Avoid taking aspirin on an empty stomach

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

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