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Four Medications You Shouldn't Take with Food, Pharmacists Warn

Learn what medications you shouldn't take with food and why.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

It's common to think medications and supplements should be taken with food–that's certainly the case with many. For instance, "It's recommended to take Vitamin D with a fatty meal for better absorption," Nancy Salman, Walgreens Pharmacist with 15 years of experience tells us. In addition, "It is best to take magnesium supplements with a meal to reduce upset stomach and diarrhea," Dr. Salman explains. However, there's a few meds that you should take on an empty stomach, according to experts. As always, please consult your physician or pharmacist for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why it's Recommended to Take Certain Medications Without Food


According to the National Health Service, "Some medicines need to be taken "before food" or "on an empty stomach". This is because food and some drinks can affect the way these medicines work. For example, taking some medicines at the same time as eating may prevent your stomach and intestines absorbing the medicine, making it less effective. Alternatively, some foods can interact with your medicine, either by increasing or decreasing the amount of medicine in your blood to potentially dangerous levels, or levels that are too low to be effective."



Female doctor talking while explaining medical treatment to patient through a video call with laptop in the consultation.

HaVy Ngo-Hamilton, Pharm.D, BuzzRx Clinical Consultant says, "Eating foods high in calcium, such as dairy products, can prevent the body from absorbing some antibiotics."



assortment of red pills and capsules of iron supplements

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Iron is best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach, with water or fruit juice (adults: full glass or 8 ounces; children: ½ glass or 4 ounces), about 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. However, to lessen the possibility of stomach upset, iron may be taken with food or immediately after meals."



Woman holding a pill in her hand.

Dr. Ngo-Hamilton states, "Specific foods can cause problems by allowing more of the drug to enter the bloodstream and putting you at risk of having dangerously high levels of the medicine. An example is grapefruit juice, which can lead to increased absorption of medications such as certain statins used to lower cholesterol (Zocor, Lipitor), some medications used to treat high blood pressure (Procardia, Adalat CC) and abnormal heart rhythm (Pacerone, Cordarone)."


Thyroid Replacement Medications

Woman suffering from sore throat.

According to Dr. Ngo-Hamilton, "Medications such as levothyroxine (Synthroid) and medicines used to treat osteoporosis, such as alendronate (Fosamax) and ibandronate (Boniva) should be taken without food. Food can reduce the absorption of some medications, making the medication less effective."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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