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Do I need to eat food when taking atorvastatin?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Jan 19, 2022.

Official answer


Atorvastatin (also known as Lipitor) can be taken any time of the day, with or without food. An oral dose of atorvastatin will be absorbed rapidly, with maximum plasma concentrations occurring within 1 to 2 hours after you take it. While you may or may not eat food when taking atorvastatin, there are certain foods you should avoid when taking the drug.

Foods to avoid when taking atorvastatin:

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Atorvastatin is broken down by a digestive enzyme called CYP3A. Several compounds within grapefruit can block the CYP3A enzyme from being able to metabolize atorvastatin. Therefore, when atorvastatin is ingested at the same time as grapefruit juice, the body is unable to properly metabolize the medication, causing an increase in the blood serum concentration of atorvastatin by about 80 percent, regardless of when you drink the juice that day. This can result in myopathy, which causes symptoms including elevated creatine kinase levels, muscle weakness, muscle and tendon pain, muscle cramping and fatigue.

Other medications to avoid:

Certain supplements and medications. Some supplements or medications, such as birth control pills, certain blood thinning and heart medications, and immunosuppressant drugs, among others, may interfere with atorvastatin and cause adverse events. Check with your prescriber to ensure that any other medications or supplements you may be taking will not interact with atorvastatin.

As the goal of atorvastatin is to lower cholesterol, it is also recommended to monitor cholesterol intake and adhere to a lower cholesterol diet recommended by your health care provider.

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium). June 2009. Available at: [Accessed January 12, 2022].
  2. Lee JW, Morris JK, Wald NJ. Grapefruit Juice and Statins. Am J Med. 2016 Jan;129(1):26-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.07.036. Epub 2015 Aug 20.
  3. Sathasivam S, Lecky B. Statin induced myopathy. BMJ. 2008; 337:a2286.

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