One of the most beautiful things about studying Nutrition is learning important information about things I am passionate about. Each day I go to class, I get to learn in-depth information about food and the body and how they work together. It is pretty fascinating. Last semester, my professor was discussing the way that tea affects iron absorption. As a dedicated tea drinker, my ears immediately perked up and I began listening to every word she said – in particular, that tea, especially black tea, inhibits the absorption of iron and should only be consumed in between meals to prevent this from happening. I trusted what my teacher was saying, because she is an expert on Nutrition, but I decided to do my own research and look at different scientific studies to support her statement.
From the plethora of studies I reviewed, I pretty much gathered the same information. Black tea and green tea can affect the absorption of iron. Most of the studies also mentioned that this is more important for those who already have an iron deficiency as it will diminish some of the iron they are consuming, and they need to absorb as much iron as possible.
As for me, I typically don’t drink tea during a meal. I naturally sip on tea in between meals. After gathering this knowledge, I am happy I don’t have to break a habit of drinking tea with my meals. I would suggest, however, for those who do choose to drink tea with their meal, please be cautious, as iron is very vital to our health and development.
Iron is a trace mineral that is an essential part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body and is important in regulating our body’s temperature. It also assists in brain function and development. Iron is one of the most common mineral deficiencies, so be aware of drinking tea with meals that have good sources of iron. Keep in mind that there are two different types of iron – heme and non-heme. Heme iron is absorbed more effectively than non-heme iron and is found in animal products, such as chicken liver, beef, and turkey. Non-heme iron is found in plants, including beans, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
If drinking tea while eating is a must for you, try pairing your tea with something that isn’t a good source of iron so you aren’t inhibiting the absorption. Your body will thank you!