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  • Tea Consumption and Iron Absorption

    Tea consumption has received much press lately regarding it's affect on the bodies ability to successfully absorb iron. The good news is most healthy people who are not iron deficient and are considered "healthy" don't have much to worry about if they're tea drinkers and were considering changing their tea drinking habits.

    The most common nutritional deficiency world-wide is lack of iron steming from improper nutrition. Iron is needed by the body to carry out many metabolic processes; ultimately, when deprived of iron, a person is at a higher risk of being diagnosed with anemia.

    Here are some interesting facts regarding iron and tea consumption:

    Dietary Iron Sources

    Iron comes from two distinct sources:

    Haem Iron originates from animal product and is found in meat, liver, and meat products. 20% to 40% of haem iron from the food source is absorbed into the body when ingested.

    Non-haem originates from plant foods such as cereal, vegetables, fruit, dried fruits etc… This type of iron is considered poorly absorbed and around 5% of the non-haem iron from these food sources is actually absorbed into the body. So...

    Heam iron - haemaglobin and myoglobin of animals - easily absorbed

    Non-haem iron - plant foods - not as easily absorbed

    Tea Drinking and Iron Absorption

    The actual component that blocks the absorption of iron into the body is a "Phenolic compound" found in tea, coffe, red wine and leafy vegetables.

    Non-haem iron is more influenced by tea consumption than haem iron. This means that diets that rely on iron intake from cereal, vegetables, nuts, fruits as a total source of nutrition may be negatively impacted by tea drinking than diets rely on haem iron souces like red meats and animal products.

    ALso, haem iron present in foods like meat, offal and meat products are readily absorbed and tea drinking has no real affect on iron absorption.

    Practical Advice for Tea Drinkers Concerned About Iron Absorption

    Summary...

    Tea drinkers shouldn't worry about the adverse affects of iron absorption unless they are within one of the at risk groupd for iron deficiency. If you think you are at risk consult your physician prior to consuming tea, otherwise enjoy the many health benefits associated with, for example , oolong tea drinking.