Food & Medication Interactions: What to Know


January 31, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Not only can medications affect the way children absorb and digest food, but what children eat can also have an interaction with their medications. Medications affect nutrition in four specific ways: they can stimulate or suppress appetite; they can alter the amount of nutrients absorbed and the rate of absorption; they affect the way the body breaks down and uses nutrients; and they can slow down or speed up the rate at which food passes through the digestive tract.


There are thousands of possible drug-food interactions. The following list represents commonly used medications and foods, and guidelines for preventing such interactions or keeping the effects to a minimum. Be sure to check every prescription with the pharmacist and read the package insert.



Interactions With Nutrients 

 Dietary Guidelines

Nonprescription indigestion remedies Foods lessen effects. Take 1 hour after eating.
 In general Reduce intestinal production of biotin (a B vitamin), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and vitamin K; can speed up passage of food through intestine, decreasing availability for absorption. Eat a well-balanced diet, including plenty of vegetables, grains, and cereals, to ensure adequate intake of all vitamins.
  •  Amoxicillin
Food slows absorption but does not alter dose effect. None needed.
  • Erythromycin stearate
  • Penicillin
Food decreases absorption. Take 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.
  • Clarithromycin
  • Erythromycin estolate/succinate
Food improves absorption; fruit juice or carbonated beverages interfere with absorption. Take with meals.
  • Tetracycline
Binds calcium and iron so that neither antibiotic nor mineral can be absorbed. Take 2 hours before or after meals and other medications such as iron supplements or calcium-based antacids.
 Iron Supplements    
Various brands in liquid or tablet form Milk may interfere with absorption. Should be taken with water or slightly acidic drinks like fruit juice to improve absorption.
  • Griseofulvin
Can interfere with effectiveness of birth control pills. Take with fatty meal.
Anticonvulsant/Antiepileptic Medications    
  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Primidone
Interfere with vitamin D metabolism and thus with calcium absorption; also alter absorption of folic acid. A good intake of vitamin D (found in fortified milk, egg yolks, oily fish, sunlight), calcium (dairy foods, leafy greens, broccoli, canned fish with bones), and folic acid (fresh fruits, vegetables, grains) should offset medication effects; ask your pediatrician about vitamin D and calcium supplements if your child is on long-term epilepsy treatment; folic acid supplements should not be used because overly high blood levels may decrease anticonvulsant efficacy.
  • Phenytoin
Better absorbed with food or milk. Take with a meal or a glass of milk.
Thyroid Medications    
  • Levothyroxine
Take on an empty stomach.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications    
  • Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid)
Interferes with storage of vitamin C; may cause iron loss through bleeding in digestive tract. Do not give aspirin to children unless your pediatrician specifically prescribes it because it has been associated with Reye syndrome, a rare but serious disease affecting the brain and liver following viral infections; use acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Antituberculosis Medications    
  • Isoniazid
Interferes with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) metabolism. Eat a well-balanced diet, including sources of vitamin B6 such as grains, spinach, sweet and white potatoes, bananas, watermelon, and prunes.
  • Prednisone
  • Hydrocortisone
May promote excretion of potassium and calcium. Reduce salt intake; eat foods high in potassium (fresh fruits and vegetables) and calcium (low-fat dairy foods) to counter loss of these minerals; take with food to lessen stomach upset.

One thought on “Food & Medication Interactions: What to Know

  1. Bubble Gum says:

    This is a very helpful resource! Thank you!

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