The Problem With Coffee and Thyroid Medication

This combination may worsen your hypothyroid symptoms

Like many people around the world, you may start your day with a steaming cup of coffee, a cappuccino, or a shot of espresso. At the same time, you may also be one of the millions of people with a thyroid condition who relies on synthetic thyroid hormone replacement medication, like Synthroid or Levoxyl (levothyroxine), to treat your hypothyroidism. 

If you are following your doctor's instructions, you most likely are told to take your daily thyroid pills in the morning. There is a problem, however, if you take your prescription thyroid medication along with your morning coffee or espresso. 

Research Behind Coffee and Thyroid Medicine Absorption

Research studies have found that having coffee at the same time (or shortly after) taking your levothyroxine tablets can significantly lower the absorption of the thyroid medication in the intestines. With lower absorption, the medicine is likely less effective, which increases your risk of having hypothyroidism symptoms.

Researchers have found that for patients taking levothyroxine tablets, absorption is affected by drinking coffee within an hour of taking thyroid drugs. This is why experts recommend that you wait at least 60 minutes after taking the levothyroxine to drink your coffee. 

Are There Others Option Besides Waiting?

Research suggests the levothyroxine medication known as Tirosint, which is levothyroxine in a gel capsule, can bypass the effects of coffee.

Tirosint (a form of levothyroxine developed primarily for people with digestive, absorption, or allergy issues) appears to allow patients to take their levothyroxine at the same time as coffee, with no negative impact on absorption.

Tirosint Capsules for Hypothyroidism

What Does This Mean for Me?

The recommendations by researchers are clear: You should take your levothyroxine once a day on an empty stomach with water, ideally one hour prior to drinking coffee and eating breakfast. This is because coffee (and food) may interfere with absorption of the medicine. 

If you have to have your coffee and your levothyroxine in the morning and can't wait, then you may want to ask your doctor about Tirosint (the capsule) or Tirosint-Sol (the liquid form) as a substitute medication.

That said, it's preferable to not switch (unless necessary) between different formulations of T4, generic being levothyroxine and brand-names being Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Unithyroid, and Tirosint. If you do switch, be sure to have a blood test six weeks later to ensure no dose change is needed. 

A Word From Verywell

While adhering to the recommendations for taking your thyroid medication properly may be a bit of a nuisance, it's likely a routine you can get used too—and now there may even be an alternative option (Tirosint). 

Lastly, in addition to food and coffee, it's worthy to mention that you should not take your T4 medication with potentially interfering medications (for example, calcium carbonate and ferrous sulfate). 

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Article Sources
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