Do you already take your thyroid medication away from food? If so, good job! You’re doing that correctly. However, some patients drink coffee or their morning espresso while waiting for their medication to be fully absorbed. Recent studies have indicated that this may not be such a good idea.

In the journal Thyroid, researchers found that in addition to what is already known about thyroid hormone and absorption (e.g. calcium, iron, and food eaten at the time of taking thyroid hormone lowers medication absorption), coffee also interferes with the intestinal absorption of levothyroxine. According to the finding, there is approximately a 25% reduction in the absorption of the medication and can be as high as 55%. It is recommended that medication users avoid coffee or espresso for one hour before or after taking medication.

The good news for many of you is that: 1) you could be feeling much better on your current dose of medication if you were absorbing more of it and 2) you may not need an increase in your meds to improve how you are feeling on them.

This may be bad news for those of you who are already tired and the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning is the thought of your cup of Joe. One suggestion is to consult with your doctor about taking your synthroid at night. Many patients can do this without affecting their sleep. If you are one of those lucky people who do not struggle with their sleep, try taking your meds at night before bed.

Note: Unfortunately, this study did not differentiate between regular and decaffeinated coffee or caffeinated or herbal tea.