Factors which Affect Iron Absorption and Retention

    • The most important factor is your existing iron level. A low iron level will increase absorption, while a high iron level will decrease absorption. In general, you absorb 10-15% of the iron from foods.
    • Vitamin C will increase the absorption of nonheme iron by as much as 85%.
    • Tannins, oxalates, polyphenols, and phytates found in tea and coffee can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron by up to 65%. Black tea reduces absorption more than green tea and coffee.
    • The following teas and beverages also inhibit iron absorption: Peppermint tea, penny royal, cocoa, vervain, lime flower, chamomile, and most other herbal teas with polyphenols.
    • Calcium, polyphenols, and phytates found in legumes, whole grains, and chocolate can reduce absorption of nonheme iron.
    • Some protein from soy products may inhibit nonheme iron absorption.
    • Calcium, milk, and antacids can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.
    • High fiber foods, such as whole grains, raw vegetables, and bran can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.
    • Foods or drinks with caffeine can inhibit absorption of iron supplements.

 



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