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Mixing Medication and Food

A Potentially Dangerous Combination

A recent study by the Mayo Clinic revealed that a surprising 7 out of 10 American adults currently take at least one prescription medication daily – and that number is growing. Aside from being aware of the proper dosage, very few people know, nor do they fully understand, the ramifications of combining certain foods or beverages with their prescribed medications; that this action can actually affect the way these drugs respond, decreasing their potency, or in some cases, significantly increasing their side effects.

The following are but a few precautionary examples: 

Avoid grapefruit if taking cholesterol-lowering statins, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor)or simvastatin (Zocor). Although high in vitamin C, the Food and Drug Administration warns that grapefruit can affect the rate at which the statins are processed by the liver, causing more of the drug to accumulate in your bloodstream, resulting in possible muscle breakdown, liver damage and kidney failure.

Avoid eating large amounts of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, oranges and salt substitutes if you are taking ACE inhibitors such as captopril (Capoten) and enalapril (Vasotec) to avoid increased heartbeat and palpitations.

Avoid washing your multivitamin with iron, or antibiotics such as tetracycline’s, down with milk in order to receive their full potency. After taking your pill, wait two hours before consuming any dairy products.

Avoid taking blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) with excessive amounts of dark green, leafy vegetables. The clot-preventing drug allows blood to flow by blocking the liver’s production of vitamin K, which is essential to clot formation. Vegetables rich in vitamin K can inhibit this process.

Avoid excessive use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for muscle aches, headaches and pains from arthritis, as the drug can cause liver damage, especially if consuming three or more alcoholic beverages a day, including wine.

When in doubt, consult your physician before mixing and matching.