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A food-drug interaction can occur when the food you eat affects the ingredients in a medication you are taking, preventing the medicine from working the way it should.
Food-drug interactions can happen with both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including antacids, vitamins, and iron pills.
Some nutrients can affect the way you metabolize certain drugs by binding with drug ingredients, thus reducing their absorption or speeding their elimination. For example, the acidity of fruit juice may decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics such as penicillin. Dairy products may blunt the infection-fighting effects of tetracycline. Antidepressants (called MAO inhibitors) are dangerous when mixed with foods or drinks that contain tyramine (i.e., beer, red wine, chocolate, and some cheeses). Grapefruit juice can interfere with some blood pressure medications and organ transplant medications by increasing their metabolic breakdown.
Not all medications are affected by food, but many can be affected by what you eat and when you eat it. Sometimes, taking medications at the same time you eat may interfere with the way your stomach and intestines absorb medication. Other medications are recommended to be taken with food. Be sure to ask your physician or pharmacist for specific directions on eating prior to or after taking any medication.