Dilantin, also known as phenytoin, is a medication used in treating people with seizure disorders, also called epilepsy. According to the People’s Pharmacy, phenytoin was first discovered in 1908, although it was not used to treat seizure disorders until 1938. The oldest anti-epilepsy drug on the market today, Dilantin carries with it many side effects, from folic acid deficiency to recurrent neuro-toxicity. In addition, consumption of some foods, such as milk, for example, should be closely monitored while taking Dilantin, as it may interfere with absorption of Dilantin.
Dairy foods, rich in calcium, particularly milk, are to be consumed with caution when taking Dilantin. It is important to consider the timing of the consumption of calcium and Dilantin to prevent decreased levels of Dilantin. Particularly of concern is the serious side effects that may be experienced with decreased absorption of Dilantin caused by concurrent calcium intake from dairy foods; seizure activity may occur if therapeutic Dilantin levels are not maintained in the body. According to an abstracted article from the University of Maryland, it is important to take Dilantin and foods with calcium or calcium supplements 2 hours apart to promote increased absorption of both Dilantin and calcium.
Some Fruits and Vegetables
Spinach is another example of a natural food to be consumed with caution while taking Dilantin, as it contains high levels of folate. Folate is vitally important in preventing anemia, especially in infants and during pregnancy. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, foods naturally rich in folates, such as green leafy, vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans and peas, interfere with Dilantin absorption, and may promote breakthrough seizure activity in patients living with epilepsy taking Dilantin, as the drug is not metabolized properly in combination with folate. Careful monitoring of fruits and vegetables is important, and folate supplements may be a helpful alternative in maintaining a balanced diet as they do not interfere with Dilantin absorption. Synthetic folate, also called folic acid, is available in pill and injectible form, and may be used to prevent folic acid deficiency in patients taking Dilantin. Folic acid is metabolized more readily without interference with Dilantin.
Enriched Wheat Products
Enriched wheat foods, such as pasta, whole wheat bread and cereals are also foods to be avoided while taking Dilantin, as they also contain folates that interfere with Dilantin absorption. In the case of folate absorption, when folate levels are increased in the body, serum levels of Dilantin decrease, subsequently making the patient more susceptible to seizure activity. As is the case with dairy products, careful monitoring of enriched wheat products is important, and folate supplementation is a beneficial alternative in maintaining a balanced diet as they do not interfere with Dilantin absorption.