Foods that interact with common medications

November 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Foods that interact with common medications? what you don't know can hurt you. Information to keep you informed and healthy from Nicole Britvan, a registered dietitian at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

What you're eating (even the really healthy things) may be adversely interacting with common medications prescribed by your doctor - what you need to know to stay healthy!

1. (Some) Statins (cholesterol lowering drugs - Lipitor (Atorvastatin), Zocor (Simvastatin), Mevacor (Lovastatin) ( for example) can interact with Grapefruit/Grapefruit juice, Seville Oranges (not used in commercial orange juice production but used to make some varieties of marmalade), and Pomelo (also called the Chinese Grapefruit)

· Grapefruit Juice prevents these medications from breaking down, essentially leads to an increase in the level of the drug in your body.

· Side effects: can cause muscle aches/pains/unjustified weakness, or more serious side effects like rhabdomyolosis (serious breakdown of muscle), or kidney or liver damage.

· Take home message: Do not drink or eat any grapefruit, Seville oranges, or pomelos if you are taking these medications. Best to take your meds with water.

· NOTE: can have an interacting effect for up to 3 days after ingestions, especially if someone drinks grapefruit juice on a regular basis.

**Medications that help to lower high blood pressure (Calcium Channel Blockers) can also interact with Grapefruit/Grapefruit Juice in the same way

· Side Effects: headache, rapid heartbeat, dizziness

2. Coumadin (Warfarin), a blood thinner used to prevent strokes and heart attacks, interacts with foods rich in Vitamin K (green leafy vegetables). Vitamin K is a blood clotter, while Coumadin is a blood thinner. Keeping these foods in your diet is not the problem, it's being consistent in the amount you eat that is key.

· Doctor will adjust your dose based on the level of Vitamin K in your blood

· Side effects: unusual bruising, nose bleeds, blood in your stool, difficult time having blood clot (cut that doesn't stop bleeding)

· Take home message - Be consistent. Continue to eat what you normally eat, just don't make any radical changes to your diet.

· Examples: liver, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, Swiss chard, coriander, collards, cabbage, and other green leafy vegetables.

3. Certain antibiotics (Cipro, tetracycline) can interact with calcium rich foods/calcium supplements.

· Dairy products and even calcium supplements can decrease the absorption of these medications, rendering them less effective

· Important to take these on an empty stomach with water

Bottom Line/General Do's and Don'ts:

· When picking up your medication, take advantage of the consultation offered at your pharmacy, whether it be Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Longs

· Make sure at the very least to read through the printed materials

· If you have any unusual side effects, do not hesitate to call your doctor or a nurse advice line, or if you feel it is an emergency, call 911

· Don't be afraid to ask questions about your medication, and any side effects or food interactions you should be aware of.

· Let your doctor/pharmacist know about any over the counter medications or herbal supplements as these may also interact with your prescription medications.