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Pharmacy/milk and antioxidants


Hello, I was reading that milk can hinder the absorption of some antioxidants when taken together.  Is it okay for me to drink milk with my coq10 and astathanxin supplements?
Thank you!

Dear Chris,
Firstly, apologies for the delay in replying.  Your query got me to do some research.  It's an interesting question.  The short answer to your question is that no-one knows with certainty whether milk interferes with the absorption of antioxidants.  To date, there are insufficient studies to suggest one way or another.  I've only been able to find vague details of these studies; none of which seem to be published in any peer-reviewed medical/pharmaceutical journals.  The studies I've reviewed seem inadequate and rather limited eg, animal (non-human), and small samples.  Results from such studies are unreliable...but not necessarily inaccurate, of course.  Bottom line is more research is needed to fully understand this interaction in order to prove or disprove it.  

CoQ10 and astaxanthin, themselves, require further studies as their benefits also remain unproven or unsubstantiated through clinical trials.  There's a lot of promising info about these agents out there, but again, most studies are inadequate.  These agents remain under-represented in medical texts and journals for this reason.

I realise, however, that this doesn't help you with your question.  What to do?  Milk certainly does interact with a small handful of medications.  The calcium can bind to the drug in question forming a chemical complex which is unable to be absorbed systemically through the gut wall, and is eventually passed out.  The insufficient amounts absorbed means the patient will experience a suboptimal effect of the drug, and this could be a real problem.  Usually the recommendation is to separate the drug from the ingestion of milk by a couple hours, giving the gut ample time to absorb the drug.  Some references may even suggest a separation of as much as 4 hours to be safe.  So, if you are particularly concerned about the potential interaction between milk and these agents, do not take them together.  If you take milk in the morning, consider taking your antioxidants at lunchtime or afternoon.  Milk (like other diary) is a great source of calcium, and its benefits are undeniable.  I would never suggest cutting this out from your diet (unless, of course, there are other reasons eg, lactose tolerance...but this is another issue entirely).  

I hope this helps, Chris.  Sorry about not being more definitive with my response, but there just isn't enough info out there.  Again, if you are concerned, try separating your antioxidants from milk intake.  


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Gisella Campanelli


I am able to answer questions relating to pharmaceuticals, therapeutic regimes and primary health care. This includes offering advice on drug indications, dosages, and disease state management. I can also identify side effects, drug interactions and contra-indications, and offer recommendations on ways to mitigate these. I can diagnose minor illnesses and suggest appropriate over-the-counter remedies and/or preventive healthcare tips. I can recognize cardinal symptoms which would otherwise require referral to a medical practitioner.


I am a registered pharmacist in Australia, and I have practiced in a hospital pharmacy for over thirteen years. My clinical specializations lie within the areas of psychiatry and general medicine (including gastroenterology, respiratory, endocrinology, neurology, infectious diseases, gerontology, dermatology). I self-managed the training program for pharmacy interns in preparation for their final registration exams, and I have worked for the Pharmacy Board of Australia as an examiner and exam writer.

I hold a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, and I am board-registered to practice within Australia. I also hold a Master's degree in an unrelated field (art conservation).

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