How Coffee Affects Your Thyroid Medication

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

Many people drink coffee with their morning pills, but the link between coffee and thyroid medication means you may want to reconsider. That’s not to say you have to cut coffee from your diet, but you will need to alter your schedule to ensure your favorite latte doesn’t mess with your thyroid drugs. Find out how coffee can interfere with thyroid medication and why drinking caffeine too close to taking thyroid drugs can reduce levothyroxine absorption.

Coffee has been shown to reduce thyroid drugs absorption.

Because many people take their thyroid medication first thing in the morning, it’s not uncommon for them to swallow their pills while enjoying a cup of coffee. However, studies have found that taking your thyroid drugs with coffee could reduce absorption of the medication by up to 36%. According to one study, one reason for this could be because coffee stimulates the colon, so there is less time for the medication to be absorbed. In fact, that study stated both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee stimulates the colon, although caffeinated coffee had the stronger impact.

You can still drink coffee…just later.

While coffee has been shown to interfere with levothyroxine absorption, it does not necessarily mean you have to give up coffee. To help prevent an interaction between coffee and thyroid medication, patients should wait at least one hour after taking their thyroid drugs to have coffee. Some experts recommend waiting as much as four hours, so be sure to talk with your doctor to find out his or her recommendation for you. It’s also possible your doctor may reduce, but not eliminate, how much coffee you should consume each day.

Other caffeinated drinks also should be delayed so they won’t interfere with thyroid medication.

Your morning coffee is not the only beverage that could stall the absorption of your thyroid drugs. Other caffeinated drinks such as caffeinated tea, hot cocoa, or caffeinated soft drinks could have the same effect at limiting levothyroxine absorption. So as with coffee, you should wait at least an hour after taking your thyroid medication before having any other caffeinated beverages. Again, talk with your doctor for specific recommendations and to see if you need to eliminate or reduce your daily consumption of caffeinated drinks.

Drink water to increase levothyroxine absorption.

As is common with medications, taking your thyroid drugs with water is the best way to ensure complete levothyroxine absorption. It is recommended that you take your medication with a full, 8-ounce glass of water. In fact, if you take your thyroid medication in the morning, taking your medicine with hot lemon water not only will aid in levothyroxine absorption, but also will help promote healthy levels of stomach acid and aid the liver’s detoxification function.

Consider a schedule change to prevent coffee and thyroid medication interactions.

Waiting at least an hour before having that morning cup of coffee can be difficult for some people, especially given the general recommendation to take levothyroxine on an empty stomach an hour before breakfast. Therefore, talk with your doctor to see if taking your thyroid drugs at bedtime could be an option. According to the American Thyroid Association, taking your levothyroxine at bedtime actually could result in better absorption than taking it before breakfast. That means you could wake up, and enjoy your coffee right away.

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  1. Benvenga S, Bartolone L, Pappalardo MA, et al. Altered intestinal absorption of L-thyroxine caused by coffee. Thyroid. 2008;18(3):293-301. doi:10.1089/thy.2007.0222
  2. Rao SS, Welcher K, Zimmerman B, Stumbo P. Is coffee a colonic stimulant? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1998;10(2):113-118. doi:10.1097/00042737-199802000-00003
  3. Is Coffee Harming Your Thyroid? National Academy of Hypothyroidism.
  4. Clinical Thyroidology for Patients: Hypothyroidism. American Thyroid Association.
  5. Controversy: Is Coffee Bad for Your Thyroid? Dr. Izabella Wentz, PHARMD.
  6. Coffee and Thyroid Medications. Bay Area Endocrinology Associates.
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 17
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