Does Coffee Increase Iron Absorption? (Explained)

Coffee can decrease iron absorption depending on the food you eat with it. According to a study, coffee taken alongside a hamburger meal reduces iron absorption by 39%. However, if taken 1 hour before a meal, coffee has been found to have no effect on iron absorption.

Iron is an essential nutrient that is necessary for the production of hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin is a protein that transfers oxygen to the body’s cells through the bloodstream, where it is utilized for the creation of energy. Iron is necessary for the human body for growth and development.

For many people, coffee is a drug to banish their laziness. It has many ingredients that help in better performance throughout the day. Coffee has a huge amount of caffeine in it which is a stimulant of the central nervous system. Caffeine is considered the best for fueling the body with energy before a workout or any other kind of training. Where caffeine powers the body and benefits it physically, it can also keep the brain sharp and focused.

Most people take iron lightly because they have no idea how it affects the body and how important it is for growth and development. Around 10 million people have some sort of iron deficiency and about 5 million suffer from iron deficiency anemia. Here are some symptoms that can help in identifying iron deficiency or iron-deficiency anemia:

  • Physical weakness.
  • Severe fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Pale skin.
  • Rapid Heartbeat.
  • Lack of breath.
  • Dizziness and headache.
  • Cold feet and hands.
  • Imflammed and sore tongue.
  • Brittle nails.
  • Cravings for non-nutritive things, such as, ice or dirt.
  • Lack of appetite.

The average quantity of iron that people should consume varies with age, although, the quantity of iron for pregnant women is different. Here is a table.

Stages of life.Recommended Quantity.
Birth to 6 months.0.27mg
Infants of 7 to 12 months.11mg
Children of 1 to 13 years.7mg to 10mg
Teenagers, 14 to 18 years11mg to 15mg
Adults, 19 to 50 years.8mg to 18mg
Adults of 51 years and older.8mg
Pregnant women.27mg
Breastfeeding women.9mg
Table of average iron quantity for every life stage

For more information, keep reading.

Does coffee have iron?

coffee beans

Coffee contains zero quantities of iron. If you are thinking of consuming iron, coffee is the worst option because it doesn’t contain any iron.

Coffee can give you many other minerals, but iron is not one of them. The nutrients that coffee carries are, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), magnesium, potassium, and many others. Because of all those nutrients, coffee is considered to be a beneficial beverage.

You can drink an adequate quantity of coffee for obtaining the nutrients. At the same time, you have to be careful because coffee can cause discomfort to some people because many are sensitive to caffeine.

What foods are good for iron?

Everyone needs nutrients for proper functionality. Nutrients are quite important for the growth and development of the body. Not only that, if we don’t have enough nutrients in our bodies, it can lead to serious health issues; therefore, your diet must contain all the nutrients in a sufficient amount.

I have made a list of foods that are good for iron and that you can add to your diets so that you won’t have to take supplements for every nutrient. Have a look at the table below.

Food SourceSizeIron Quantity.
Tofu 100g5.6mg
Spinach1 cup3.72mg
Beefsteak100g2mg
Chickpea100g6.2mg
Red meat100g2.7mg
Turkey, leg, roasted100g2.3mg
Egg, omelet.100g1.5mg
Lamb, liver100g7.4mg
Oysters, pacific, cooked100g9.2mg
List of food containing iron

If you are the kind of person that doesn’t prefer supplements and still wants to have a good balance of nutrients in your body, then you can just consume the foods listed on the table above. These foods are rich in iron, thus consuming solely them, will be enough for the nutrient balance in your body.

Can coffee inhibit iron absorption?

a cup of coffee

Coffee does inhibit iron absorption to some extent. It is not an issue for healthy people, nonetheless, people with iron deficiency have been advised to stop consuming coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

Coffee has become an integral part of the functioning of the human race. 80% of the US population consumes caffeine regularly.

Caffeine is considered a stimulant, however, there have been claims that it inhibits iron absorption.

There are few studies that say, a cup of coffee decreased the iron absorption from a hamburger meal by 39%. Another popular iron absorption inhibitor called tea reduced about 64% with the same meal.

One more study said, drinking instant coffee with a bread meal can reduce iron absorption by 60% to 90%.

Moreover, coffee is not the main inhibitor of iron absorption. One study said, that caffeine only reduces about 6% of iron absorption which is relatively a small amount.

Among the elderly, a cup of coffee per week lowers 1% of ferritin, a protein which points out to iron storage levels, says a study.

Watch this video to gain more knowledge about coffee and how it affects nutrient absorption.

Can I drink coffee before taking iron?

Coffee and caffeine can have a huge impact on nutrients, but they solely depend on time.

A study said there was no decrease in iron absorption when coffee was consumed 1 hour before a meal rich in iron.

If you are taking iron supplements, it is advised to take them with water or fruit juice. Refrain yourself from taking them with foods or coffee as it will inhibit iron absorption.

There some a few foods/drinks that can reduce iron absorption; therefore avoid having such food/drink, if taking iron supplements.

Have a look at the list of foods/drinks that have the potential to inhibit iron absorption.

  • Tea, it is known as the biggest inhibitor of iron absorption.
  • Coffee, as is contains caffeine and caffeine has been proved in study that it can reduce the iron absorption.
  • Milk and other dairy products.
  • Foods that have tannins in them, for instance grapes, corn, and sorghum.
  • Foods containing phytates acid, for example brown rice.
  • Foods with oxalic acid, such as parsely and peanuts.

How long after drinking coffee can I take iron?

A plate of food next to a salt shaker

Coffee in many types of research has been proved to inhibit iron absorption, although very little. There is a particular time to take your iron so that caffeine in the coffee doesn’t have much of an effect.

Although coffee has a very small effect on iron absorption, it can still interfere with the iron you are consuming. Coffee will have much less effect on your iron absorption if the time gap is about 2 to 3 hours. The lesser the effect the more the time gap.

In conclusion

Coffee is a beverage that is quite popular in many countries. It is consumed on a daily basis in huge quantities. Coffee contains caffeine which is proved to be a great way of fueling the body with energy. It has innumerable benefits but if ingested in excessive amounts, it can harm the body and as well as the brain. Caffeine is advised to be consumed not more than 400 mg per day.

Immoderate consumption of caffeine can interfere with nutrients in your body, thus leading to many medical issues. Caffeine is perfectly capable of hindering iron absorption. If you are iron deficient then it is advised to stop drinking coffee.

Iron deficiency is a serious health issue that can cause heart problems. There is an average amount of iron that you should be consuming and it varies with age.

As caffeine interferes with iron absorption; iron supplements or food that is rich in iron should be consumed after or before drinking coffee. This way, your body has enough iron and energy.

Nowadays, people have become quite busy with their lives ending up forgetting to eat, thereby not enough consumption of nutrients. Most people are not aware of the importance of nutrients and how a lack of certain nutrients can affect them.

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Marty Spargo

Caffeine aficionado and coffee student (if there's such a thing!). I've come to love coffee in recent years and share what I learn along the way on this website.

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