Broward County > Parks > Extension Education > Nutrition > Food And Drug Interactions

As you probably know, there are a wide variety of medications on the market today. Almost all medications have the potential to cause side effects and interactions with food and its nutrients. A food/drug interaction occurs when a food, or one of its components, interferes with the way a drug is used in the body. A drug/nutrient interaction occurs when a drug affects the use of a nutrient in the body.

Many people take more than one medication. This is especially true with older people. When people take multiple medications, food and drug interactions are more likely to occur. Other factors that can affect these interactions are: age, gender, medical history, body composition and nutritional status.

Although medications, both prescription and over the counter, are used every day to treat acute and chronic illness, it is important to realize that they must still be used with caution. The following tips can help you avoid problems with your medication.

  • Always carry a list of all your medications and the dosing instructions.
  • When your doctor prescribes a new medication, tell him/her all the other drugs you already take. This includes over-the-counter drugs and any supplements that you use. Remind your doctor about any drug allergies you have.
  • Know how and when to take all of your medications. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you have any side effects from a medication, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately. If you are not sure if symptoms are related to your medication, be sure to ask.
  • It is usually best to take medication with a full glass of water. This may help to prevent stomach irritation and improve absorption. Don't take medications with soft drinks or grapefruit juice.
  • Get your prescription refilled before you run out so that there are no missed doses.
  • Don't stir your medication into food or drink unless your doctor or pharmacist tells you to. Certain foods may break down the drug, or limit its absorption.
  • Always read the directions and warning labels on your medication bottles and packages. If you don't understand something ask your doctor or pharmacist.

To get the maximum benefits from medication use, be certain to speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

Information courtesy of the University of Florida