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Last updated: May 23, 2022
3 min read

Doxycycline and dairy products: can you mix them?

 

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The antibiotic doxycycline is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections and health conditions. However, some types of foods, supplements, and medications may impact the effectiveness of this medication, including dairy products. 

Milk and dairy products change how your body absorbs doxycycline, making the medication less effective. Let’s learn more about what doxycycline is and how dairy affects it.

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What is doxycycline?

Doxycycline belongs to a class of antibiotics called tetracyclines that stop the growth of bacteria. As a result of treatment, the bacteria die, and the infection clears (Patel, 2022). 

It is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms and is prescribed to treat a range of infections and conditions like (Patel, 2022): 

It is also used as a preventative medication for malaria.

Doxycycline also falls under many brand names, including: 

  • Vibramycin
  • Doryx
  • Oracea
  • Acticlate
  • Atridox
  • Doxy 100
  • Doxy 200

Can you mix doxycycline and dairy?

You shouldn’t take doxycycline (or other tetracycline antibiotics) with dairy products because dairy can interfere with how your body absorbs the medication—ultimately reducing how effective it is. This is especially the case if you consume dairy products around the same time that you take doxycycline.

The reason milk and other dairy products affect the body’s absorption of doxycycline is that they contain calcium. Calcium reacts with doxycycline in a process called chelation. This process forms a new compound called chelate, which is harder for your intestines to absorb.

Because of this interaction with calcium, less doxycycline is absorbed by your gastrointestinal tract, and the medication becomes less effective. 

The effects of milk products on doxycycline have been well established. An older, smaller study from 1989 showed consuming milk at the same time as doxycycline decreased its bioavailability and absorption by about 30% (Meyer, 1989).

Antacids and dietary supplements containing calcium may also have similar effects. You should avoid taking these products at the same time that you take your doxycycline prescription.

How long after taking doxycycline can you eat dairy? 

You don’t have to completely remove dairy from your diet. Just pay attention when you’re consuming dairy products. It’s recommended to avoid consuming dairy products within 2–3 hours of taking doxycycline (Patel, 2022). For example, if you choose to take doxycycline at 8 a.m., you’d want to avoid eating dairy from about 5 a.m.–11 a.m. 

A few common dairy foods you’ll want to avoid around the time you’re taking tetracycline antibiotics include:

  • Milk
  • Buttermilk
  • Butter
  • Cream and heavy cream
  • Ice cream
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt and frozen yogurt
  • Whey 
  • Desserts made with dairy products
  • Ghee

Other doxycycline interactions

A number of other minerals and substances can interfere with doxycycline. This is why it’s usually recommended to take doxycycline on an empty stomach because of how these compounds may interact with the drug.

Aside from calcium, there are other minerals in various foods and supplements that can affect how your body absorbs tetracycline antibiotics, including (Patel, 2022):

Eggs, beef, and kale, for example, are iron-rich foods that should be avoided when taking this antibiotic. Doxycycline can also make you more sensitive to the common side effects of alcohol, especially the effects on movements and body control (McIver, 2012). On that note, if you’re fighting an infection and are on antibiotics, it’s better to cut the alcohol for the time being. 

Some medications may interact with doxycycline, too, including retinoids and some blood thinners (Warner Chilcott, 2008). Talk with your healthcare provider about any medications or supplements you take or plan to take while undergoing doxycycline treatment. Your doctor will help you create a plan for safely taking doxycycline and answer any questions you may have.

Potential side effects of doxycycline

Doxycycline has been used for decades. It’s generally considered safe for most people. Still, it can lead to side effects like any medication. Potential side effects of doxycycline can include (Patel, 2022):

  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to sunlight and increased risk for sunburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash and hives
  • Headaches
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Chest pain
  • Migraines
  • Yeast infections
  • Liver damage
  • Increased lupus symptoms

Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about how foods, supplements, and any medications you’re currently taking or plan to take may impact doxycycline. They can help you create a safe and effective treatment plan and answer any questions you may have.

References

  1. McIver, S. R., Muccigrosso, M. M., & Haydon, P. G. (2012). The effect of doxycycline on alcohol consumption and sensitivity: consideration for inducible transgenic mouse models. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 237(10), 1129–1133. doi:10.1258/ebm.2012.012029. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23019604/ 
  2. Meyer, F. P., Specht, H., Quednow, B., et al. (1989). Influence of milk on the bioavailability of doxycycline–new aspects. Infection, 17(4), 245–246. doi:10.1007/BF01639529. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2767766/ 
  3. Patel, R. S. & Parmar, M. (2022). Doxycycline Hyclate. StatPearls. Retrieved on May 5, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555888/ 
  4. Warner Chilcott. (2008). Highlights of prescribing information. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/050795s005lbl.pdf