Many of us think of coffee as having one very specific benefit: giving us a much-needed energy boost in the mornings. But studies show there are lots of reasons to embrace a daily cup (or more) of joe. Drinking two cups a day has been found to slash the risk of liver cancer—and coffee can even help people live longer and reduce their risk of heart disease.
Then, of course, there are the well-known negative aspects of coffee: it’s addictive, it can upset your stomach, and “coffee intake can also lead to a stimulating crash later in the day; such as loss of energy, needing a nap , and loss of motivation,” cautions Wendi D.Jones, PharmD, MSPS. “This is often why coffee drinkers tend to be tired mid-afternoon.”
A less commonly known downside of coffee? If you use it to wash down certain medications, it can have a negative impact on your health. Read on to find out which meds you should never take with your morning coffee.
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Taking antidepressants with coffee can backfire in two ways. “Coffee can interact with tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) by potentially leading to reduced absorption of the medication, which would lead to the patient not receiving the full dose prescribed,” warns Jones. In addition, the SSRI fluvoxamine “is also known to enhance the effects of caffeine, so people who drink large amounts of caffeine may experience unpleasant symptoms such as heart palpitations, feeling sick, restlessness and insomnia,” says the National Health Service.
It’s best not to combine coffee with stimulants such as Adderall. “While small amounts of coffee may not worsen Adderall’s side effects, combining the two can raise the risk of side effects like high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, feeling jittery, and trouble sleeping,” according to GoodRx.
“Coffee, a stimulant, also interacts with other stimulants and could lead a person to have increased heart rate and increased risk of tachycardia,” says Jones, noting that two other examples of stimulants include pseudoephedrine and epinephrine.
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Vitamins won’t do much good if their properties get pushed along your digestive system too quickly or flushed out of your body before they can have any type of positive effect. “Coffee is a diuretic and can lead to the loss of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin Bs and vitamin C when taken together,” warns Jones. And caffeine will make the digestive process go faster by “increasing the contractions that force food through your digestive tract,” according to LiveStrong, whose experts also point out that coffee can limit or reduce your absorption of iron and calcium.
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You might not think of coffee as having a negative effect on medications that treat diabetes. But in fact, “coffee can increase blood sugar in some individuals, which is likely to counteract the effects of anti-diabetic drugs, cautions MDlinx. “Diabetic patients who like to drink coffee should have their blood sugar carefully monitored and may need to have their medication dosage altered to account for these effects.”
A 2008 study published by the National Library of Medicine found that coffee interfered with the thyroid medication levothyroxine. VerywellHealth explains how caffeine affects the way levothyroxine is absorbed by the body: “Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase intestinal motility, the muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract,” says the site. “Caffeine also has a mild laxative effect and increases the amount of fluid in stools.”
Both of these things can result in the medication moving through the intestines too rapidly, hindering absorption. “When this happens, your thyroid hormone levels can drop and lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism, including fatigue, muscle weakness, weight gain, hoarseness, and sensitivity to cold,” their experts warn.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you’re taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.