Iron supplements can help prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia, a condition with symptoms such as weakness and fatigue. Without sufficient iron, your body cannot make hemoglobin, a protein needed to deliver oxygen to cells, tissues and organs. However, drinking some types of teas can hinder the body's absorption of iron from supplements.
Tannins in black and green teas can inhibit the body’s absorption of nonheme iron, the type of iron in plant-based foods and iron supplements. While the body can absorb 15 to 35 percent of heme iron from animal products, it absorbs only 2 to 20 percent of nonheme iron. There is a significant relationship between tea consumption and low iron levels in preschool children, notes the National Cancer Institute. Consuming tea between meals, however, may not affect the body’s absorption of iron. Try to take your iron supplement at least two hours before or after having black or green tea.
Unlike black and green teas, herbal teas do not contain tannins. Drinking these types of teas will not affect your body's ability to use iron supplements. Some herbal teas, including those made with red raspberry leaf, dandelion, nettles and yellow dock, contain high amounts of iron, notes the American Pregnancy Association.
MedlinePlus recommends taking iron supplements on an empty stomach for the best absorption. Avoid taking iron supplements with foods that hinder absorption, such as teas, coffee, dairy products and cereals. Some foods may boost absorption, including those containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits. Consider taking iron supplements with a cup of herbal tea and a slice of lemon, for example.
Iron supplements can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dark-colored stools and other gastrointestinal distress. Take the supplement with food if you experience side effects. Additionally, begin with a smaller dose or divide the recommended amount into several smaller doses to help minimize side effects, advises the Office of Dietary Supplements.
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