Tea & iron absorption

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By The Gut Health Doctor Team

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Study shows drinking tea away from meals could help increase iron absorption by over 50%!

First, let me say you can absolutely enjoy your cups of tea. There’s nothing ‘bad’ about it – it’s simply because the plant chemicals (called flavonoids) can bind to iron in plant-based foods (i.e. non-heme iron) and reduce how much your body absorbs.

Researchers found having a cup of tea with a test meal inhibited iron absorption by about 60-70%

But just leaving a little gap in between can have a big impact…

  • An interval of 30 mins reduced this inhibition to 30%
  • An interval of 1 hour reduced inhibition to 21%
  • An interval of 2 hours reduced inhibition to 10%

Does that mean you need to drink all your tea away from meals? Well, no! Most people don’t need to think about it.

But if your iron levels are a little on the low side, here’s what you can do

  • Have your cups of tea in between meals instead of during – try waiting at least 30-60 mins
  • Add vitamin C to your plant-based iron sources (tomatoes + lentils, peppers + tofu, oranges + nuts)
  • Include some fish, meat or poultry in your meals – on top of all those plant points for the gut-loving fibre!


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