If You Have An Iron Deficiency, Be Careful With Coffee

If you are iron deficient or tend to have low iron levels, there are a few things you should pay attention to when drinking coffee. Otherwise, the coffee inhibits iron absorption from the intestine and thus increases your iron deficiency.

Even 1 cup of coffee inhibits iron absorption

Iron deficiency is common, especially in women. The most common symptoms are tiredness and paleness and increased susceptibility to infections. Because little iron leads to a lack of oxygen in the blood, which then naturally drains energy, making you feel weak and unproductive.

Iron deficiency can also damage the lymphatic system (an important component of the immune system) and reduce the functions of some immune cells. In this way, too little iron can lead to a weakened immune system and frequent infections.

If you already have an iron deficiency or tend to have low iron levels, then you should be cautious about drinking coffee and tea. According to an older study from 1983, just one cup of coffee reduces the iron absorption from a hamburger by almost 40 percent. However, tea (black and green tea) is not better, on the contrary. Tea reduces iron absorption by 64 percent.

Substances in green tea bind to iron and make it ineffective

We previously featured a 2016 study in our article Green Tea and Iron: A Bad Combination that found that green tea and iron cancel each other out. So if you drink green tea with or after a meal, neither the polyphenols in green tea, which are so valuable for health nor the iron can have an effect, because both form an insoluble bond and are excreted unused with the stool.

In the above study from 1983, the following was found with regard to coffee: With filter coffee, iron absorption was reduced from 5.88 percent (without coffee) to 1.64 percent, with instant coffee even to 0.97 percent. Doubling the amount of instant powder reduced absorption to 0.53 percent.

The right time for a cup of coffee

If the coffee was drunk an hour before a meal, there was no reduction in iron absorption. However, if coffee is drunk an hour after a meal, it reduces iron absorption just as much as if it were drunk directly with the meal.

Coffee lowers ferritin levels while green tea does not

A 2018 study revealed something interesting: If you looked at the effects of coffee and green tea consumption on ferritin levels (ferritin = iron storage), it was found that men who drank less than one cup of coffee per day had a serum ferritin level of 100.7 ng/ml. If they drank more than three cups of coffee, the level was only 92.2 ng/ml.

In women, the ferritin level was 35.6 ng/ml when the women drank little coffee. If they drank more than three cups a day, the value was only 28.9 ng/ml.

No comparable correlation could be seen with green tea. Apparently, this had no effect on the stored iron value, not even if you drank a lot of it. However, the participants may also have been careful not to drink the tea with meals.

Coffee can increase iron deficiency during pregnancy

Iron deficiency during pregnancy can have disadvantages for mother and child, e.g. B. leads to premature or delayed birth, postnatal bleeding, growth disorders in the embryo, low birth weight, or an increased risk of death in the child. For the mother, it’s fatigue, a weakened immune system, and an increased risk of disease.

Coffee should therefore be avoided, especially during pregnancy, as it can also contribute to iron deficiency, which is already common anyway.

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