What’s The Real Deal About Prescription Drugs And Grapefruit Juice?
Patricia Zifferblatt | November 15, 2007

Several times every week, we at Better Life get calls and e-mails about eating grapefruit, or drinking grapefruit juice, or taking certain food supplements that contain grapefruit extract, while taking certain prescription medications. So for all of you who might question the grapefruit-prescription medication connection, here’s the lowdown.

Most of us know that all plants contain antioxidants, and we’ve been taught that every adult should eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day for better health. And citrus fruits such as grapefruit are especially high in Vitamin C, an important antioxidant.

Here’s where the problem arises. Some physicians are telling their patients not to eat, drink, or consume grapefruit in any manner, shape, or form while taking certain prescription medications. This concern is especially important for those people who are taking statin drugs or other cholesterol-lowering prescription meds.

The American Heart Association gives grapefruit “The Seal of Approval” because of the healthful potassium, fiber, and antioxidants the fruit contains. However, medical research has shown that there are enzyme-blocking activities in grapefruit juice and whole grapefruit which may prevent the metabolism of certain prescription medications when absorption takes place in the intestine.

Let’s break this question down:

A medium whole grapefruit weighs in at about 250 grams and may contain a substantial amount of the enzymes that may affect medication absorption.

A cup of grapefruit juice weighs in at about 250 milliliters and may cause a similar reaction as the whole grapefruit with medications.

The supplement we tested containing grapefruit extracts had the equivalent of about 1 teaspoonful of grapefruit juice per serving. That’s equivalent to a miniscule amount of grapefruit.

Which medications may be affected by grapefruit?

Statin drugs such as Lipitor, Lovastatin, and Mevacor

Some antihistamines

Calcium-channel blockers for high blood pressure

Psychiatric and antiseizure medications such as Valium and Tegretol

Viagra

Digoxin for congestive heart failure

So what’s a body to do?
  1. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist about the specific medications you’re taking.

  2. Take all medications with a glass of water and as directed on the label.

  3. Enjoy all fresh fruits and vegetables at mealtime, then take your medications as directed by your doctor and as directed on the label.

  4. Stop taking a bath with any food. Just because one food is suggested or recommended as good for the body by a doctor, health professional, or dietitian, that doesn’t mean you should consume that food to excess or at every meal.

  5. There are many, many other kinds of citrus fruits with grapefruit’s healthy properties. If you decide to avoid grapefruit, explore your options.
There’s a big difference between a cupful, a whole fruit, and a fraction of that fruit or juice as found in an extract. Use common sense, confer with your doctor, and live long and well.
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