Green tea and iron absorption

veganDreama

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I've just read that although green tea is very good for you it inhibits iron absorption. Does that include iron suplimemts? How long should I wait after a meal before drinking tea? I heard black and green tea inhabit iron absorption most but what about ginger herbal tea?
 

Lou

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This is what I know about the subject.
Compounds in tea, green and black, AND coffee do inhibit iron absorption. but only in the nonheme sources of iron. It doesn't ' affect or by not very much heme iron absorption. This can be a real problem for vegans who drink a lot of coffee or tea. Especially if they are in the habit of drinking tea and coffee at every meal. In one study of a non-vegetarian man who had anemia the anemia WAS the result of tea drinking. he drank 1.5 liters of tea a day. That's like 8 glasses of tea every day.

First off, checking iron levels is pretty easy to do. It's included in almost any annual checkup. I have been giving blood every 6 weeks or so, and they always check my iron levels. And I am almost always borderline anemic. even before I was vegan or vegetarian - this was true. Although since becoming vegan my nutrition awareness is much higher. I also drink less coffee or tea than I used. But of course, I eat a lot less meat than I used to.

If iron is a concern (and that would be because you had low levels in a blood test), and you don't want or can't give blood, then just get a home iron level test. they are simple, cheap, and you only need one drop of blood.

there are some good ideas that anyone can implement. Don't drink coffee or tea at meals. It's said the best time to get your caffeine fix is not first thing in the morning - but mid-morning. Like coffee break time. And that also will keep your coffee or tea from inhibiting your iron absorption at breakfast. Also, for lots of good reasons its good to moderate your tea and coffee consumption.

If you do take an iron supplement don't take it with a cup of coffee or tea. Best bet is to follow it up with a meal or a piece of fruit. OJ does promote iron absorption. but modern day grocery store OJ is awful stuff. If you can have freshly squeezed juice. or just have an orange or any piece of fruit.

Iron is toxic but excess iron is not going to kill you. Your body is very well equipped for eliminating excess iron in your stools. In fact, your stools are really good indicators of getting too much iron (but not too little). When your body eliminates iron through your stools, your stools will turn black and get harder. When your poop starts to resemble iron rods (JK) you need to back off the supplements.

and you probably shouldn't take a supplement unless you have been diagnosed with anemia or just a low blood iron level. but low iron levels are easy to "treat" with better nutrition. if you do take a multi, you can take one without iron. but if you are like me and are always borderline anemic you might find a multi with just a little bit of iron. Multis with 100% of the RDA of iron turn my stools black and rock hard. but I'm ok with multis that have 30 - 50%.

If you are a vegan and you use something like Cronometer to monitor your nutrition, your goal should be over 100% of the mRDA of iron. Not only is nonheme iron less absorbable, but also a lot of the foods we eat interfere with iron absorption.

don't forget that cooking in cast iron does provide you with some iron.
 
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veganDreama

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Thanks for your advice. Last time I donated blood my iron levels were boarderline low which is why I started taking an iron supplement as I very nearly couldn't give blood and I don't want that to happen again. I'm due to donate blood again in December.

I've stopped drinking tea at or near meal time but how long should you refrain from drinking green tea before or after meals. Is an hour before and after enough to aid iron obsorption?
What about Spicy Ginger tea? Is that to be avoided near or at meal times too?
 
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Lou

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I think refraining from drinking tea at meals or just before or after meals is more than good enough. An hour sounds like a good goal.
You may not even have to worry about it at all if you are not drinking that much tea and are now taking a supplement. Just don't wash down the supplement with tea. Best thing to wash down the supplement is fruit juice.
Oh, i just double checked and I was under the impression that an iron supplement should be taken with a meal ( I don't see in my post that I said that, but ... anyway). you are best off taking an iron supplement on an empty stomach.

and the best form of iron is ferrous succinate. But it isn't a big deal. All of the non-heme iron supplements have very low absorption rates.

Since you had a low iron level before - a supplement is a good idea. but your best bet, long-term, is to make sure you get plenty of iron in your diet. This isn't that hard for most vegans.

Here is an article that is worth reading
https://www.nomeatathlete.com/iron-for-vegetarians/
 

veganDreama

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Thanks for sharing. What about spicy ginger tea as I read that ginger was good for absorption but tea wasn't so what about tea that contains ginger?
 

Lou

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I guess it depends. What is in Spicy Ginger tea besides ginger? If it has green tea in it, it will block iron absobtion. Not sure if it does not.

but as I said earlier, as long as you are taking an iron supplement and drinking tea in moderation you shouldn't worry about it.
 
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veganDreama

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The ginger tea I drink contains: ginger root (70%), Liquorice root (15%), Cinnamon (10%), and cloves (5%). That's it it doesn't contain green tea or caffeine. So can it be drunk nearer mealtimes without inhibiting iron absorption?
 

Lou

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The ginger tea I drink contains: ginger root (70%), Liquorice root (15%), Cinnamon (10%), and cloves (5%). That's it it doesn't contain green tea or caffeine. So can it be drunk nearer mealtimes without inhibiting iron absorption?
Yes. but like I've said before. As long as you drink green tea in moderation you should not be worrying about it.
 

veganDreama

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I've just donated some blood and they checked the iron in my blood and it's fine so it looks like not eating food and green tea together is working.
 

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You see? I told you not to worry.

Don't worry. Be Happy.
Cue music.