Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The absence of iron leaves red blood cells without enough oxygen, resulting in anemia. Often, iron supplements are the first line of defense against this condition.
While it is possible to easily replenish the body’s iron stores with iron supplements, there could be other things currently in your diet that can restrict the body’s absorption of this much-needed nutrient.
And as it turns it, your morning cup of tea might be working against you if you do rely on iron supplements.
How Tea Can Affect Your Iron Supplements
As reported in a 2016 study published in Clinical Case Reports, green tea significantly interferes with the body’s ability to absorb iron. This leads to an increased risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.
Similarly, a 2017 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that black tea also inhibited iron absorption. Why do black and green tea show significant obstacles in iron absorption? To start, caffeine in these teas is well known for inhibiting iron absorption. But in this situation, antioxidants may be the true culprit.
Black and green tea both contain catechins, a type of flavonoid and antioxidant that reduces the risk of disease. Despite catechins’ many health benefits, they inhibit the body’s ability to absorb iron.
With the addition of tannins, black tea makes iron absorption even more difficult. Tannins (also known as tannic acid) are polyphenols or plant compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. However, the polyphenols create complex bonds with iron that disaffect the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Though this may sound like bad news, tea drinkers don’t need to fret. Just because you take iron supplements doesn’t mean you have to start leading a caffeine-free lifestyle.
How To Take Iron Supplements With Your Favorite Tea
Fortunately, you can still enjoy green or black tea in your daily routine while taking iron supplements. The key is to give yourself time between consuming the tea and taking your iron supplement.
Individuals should wait at least two hours before taking an iron supplement after drinking a beverage that could alter the effects of iron. This waiting period ensures the body will be able to absorb iron properly.
Herbal teas are a good alternative for those who want to err on the side of caution. These all-natural teas are decaffeinated and tannin-free, which means they won’t interfere with your supplements. Herbal teas also have fantastic health benefits, from relaxation to pain reduction.
Nettle tea has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can lessen seasonal allergy symptoms, promote hair growth, and reduce fatigue. This potent brew can also tame blood sugar levels and protect against cardiovascular disease.
And there are hundreds more delicious flavors available, too. Enjoy energizing peppermint or anti-inflammatory ginger. You can even drink teas that target specific chakras, realigning your mental and physical well-being.
Ultimately, it’s always best to consult your physician with any major health concerns. But so long as you space out your morning cuppa and daily iron pill, you should be able to avoid sacrificing either.