The primary benefit of taking statins is to lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is a fatty substance that can gum up your arteries and hike your risk of heart disease. Statins produce this effect by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Certain foods and drinks, however, may counteract this process and could increase a person’s risk of serious side effects from the drug.
Foods which are rich in vitamin K could counteract the blood-thinning effects of certain statins.
Foods rich in vitamin K which are suggested to eat in moderation include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Green onions
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Certain statins prevent the body from using vitamin K to make clotting factors.
The excess vitamin K could make the role of statins that much harder.
Vitamin K foods help to form healthy blood clots however in the use of statins which thin the blood, it could make for a dangerous combination.
One of the more well-known food-drug interactions includes grapefruit and grapefruit juice.
Some compounds found in grapefruit and grapefruit juice can block the action of an enzyme which metabolises certain drugs in the intestines.
By consuming large quantities of grapefruit and taking statins could lead to greater concentrations of the medication in the bloodstream thereby increasing the risk of statin side effects.
Grapefruit and its juice may also interact with a number of other medications.
Grapefruit juice can block the action of CYP3A4, which means more of the medication enters the bloodstream and stays in the body for longer.
As people have differing amounts of the enzyme in their small intestine, grapefruit juice can affect people differently, even if they’re taking the same medication.
The FDA confirmed that mixing grapefruit and statins could lead to an increased risk for liver and muscle damage.
These two side effects may even lead to kidney failure, which is a serious complication.
“If you’re taking simvastatin or atorvastatin, avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice as they can increase your risk of side effects,” warns the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Simvastatin and atorvastatin are common types of statins.
“If you take another type of statin, limit your intake of grapefruit juice to very small quantities or you may want to avoid it altogether,” advises the BHF.
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