February 08, 2018

Food and drug interactions: Here's what you should know

Medication Food

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Unused prescription drugs File Art/for PhillyVoice

Remember when Mary Poppins sang “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down?” Yeah…that’s probably not the best idea.

What you eat and drink can affect the way medications work — and medications can also change the way your body uses certain foods. These food-drug interactions can:

• Prevent a medicine from working the way it should
• Cause a side effect from a medicine to get worse
• Cause a new side effect

But it’s not just food — alcohol, caffeine, and other vitamins and supplements can affect how medicines work. Every time you use a medicine, carefully follow the information on the label and directions from your doctor or pharmacist.

Possible Side Effects

Take a look at these possible interactions that over-the-counter medicines, food, and alcohol can have with some common generic prescriptions. (Don’t see your medication listed here? Search the Drug Interactions Checker.)

Multivitamins and dairy products1,3,6


Leafy green vegetables/vitamin K3


Grapefruit juice2




Herbal supplements1,5


To help ensure your prescriptions have a chance to work as intended, always follow the directions and be sure to talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professionals if you have any questions.

This article was originally published on IBX Insights.

About Harshal Amin

Harshal Amin is a Sr. Clinical Pharmacist supporting Pharmacy Services and Government Markets from a Medicare STARS and overall quality improvement perspective at Independence Blue Cross.

1 Avoid Food-Drug Interactions: A guide from the National Consumers League and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. S. Food and Drug Administration. [Online] Available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/…/…/UCM229033.pdf [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].
2 Grapefruit Juice and some Drugs Don’t Mix. S. Food and Drug Administration. [Online] Available at https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm292276.htm [Accessed 9 Nov 2017].
3 Bushra R, Aslam N, Khan AY. Food-Drug Interactions. Oman Medical Journal. 2011;26(2):77-83. doi:10.5001/omj.2011.21.
4 Metronidazole. Lexi-Drugs. Available at: https://online.lexi.com/lco/action/doc/retrieve/docid/patch_f/1798773# [Accessed 10 Nov. 2017].
5 Herb-Drug Interactions. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. [Online] Available at https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/herb-drug [Accessed 13 Nov 2017].
6 Hulisz, Darrell. Food-Drug Interaction. U.S Pharmacist. 2007;32(3)93-98. [Online] Available at https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/fooddrug-interactions [Accessed 13 Nov 2017].