The Type of Meal Affects Iron Absorption

The Type of Meal Affects Iron Absorption

Iron absorption is complex and affected by many dietary factors.

Evidence suggests that the type of food you eat has a greater influence on iron absorption than the effect of drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks.

Certain types of foods enhance iron absorption, while others inhibit it. The type of iron you consume is also important.

Iron is present in food in two forms — heme and non-heme iron.

Non-heme iron, which is found mainly in plant-based foods, is relatively unstable and affected by many dietary factors. Only 2–20% of non-heme iron is absorbed (10Trusted Source).

In contrast, heme iron, which is found only in animal tissues (meat, poultry and seafood) has a much higher absorption rate of 15–35%. This is because it is absorbed intact and not influenced by other dietary factors (12Trusted Source).

Thus, coffee and caffeinated drinks are more likely to inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron from plant-based foods but have very little effect on heme iron from animal foods.

In addition, including animal protein, vitamin C and copper in meals can enhance non-heme iron absorption and reduce the negative effects of coffee and caffeinated drinks on iron absorption (13Trusted Source).

As a result, your food choices and the type of iron you consume will determine the effect of coffee and caffeinated drinks on iron absorption.

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