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How Long After Taking Iron Can You Drink Coffee? Facts & FAQ

iron supplements

While it may not be something that everyone thinks about, whether you can take iron and caffeine together is a worthwhile question to examine.

Some supplements interact poorly in a variety of ways. Certain supplements have increased or decreased effectiveness if they’re taken with other supplements, or even with certain foods and drinks.

So, can you take iron and drink coffee? And, exactly how long after taking iron can you drink coffee? It’s a good idea to wait at least an hour after taking iron before drinking coffee.

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Iron and Caffeine

If you’re like any of us at Caffeine Affection, then you are absolutely consuming a cup of coffee (or many more) each day. Most of us consider caffeine consumption a part of our daily routine—so much so, that we might not consider the effects it has on us, beyond the jolt of energy to start our day and the delicious flavor and aroma we associate with it.

However, caffeine does interact with our body in a variety of ways. Likewise, caffeine also interacts with supplements and nutrients in a variety of ways. Once such vital nutrient, iron, has an important interaction with caffeine.

spoonful of iron supplements
Image Credit: BooDogz, Shutterstock

How Does Caffeine Affect Iron Absorption?

Caffeine and iron interact differently, depending on the type of iron that you are consuming. There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is from animal sources, whereas non-heme iron is from plant sources.

Coffee and tea contain caffeine which, in turn, contains compounds known as polyphenols. Polyphenols are celebrated for their health benefits, as they are packed full of antioxidants. However, polyphenols also have an affinity for iron.

Polyphenols do not attract all types of iron, though. They only attract non-heme iron, which is derived from plant sources, rather than animal sources. When you consume caffeine and non-heme iron at the same time, the polyphenols in caffeine attract the non-heme iron.

The non-heme iron then attaches to the caffeine molecules and is absorbed by the caffeine, rather than by your body. This means that your iron absorption is diminished by the presence of polyphenols in coffee.

If you are iron deficient, this can be problematic, as the polyphenols in coffee and tea will take away the benefits of taking iron supplements, or eating iron-rich foods.

If you are not iron deficient, you won’t experience any issues, and you can eat and drink as you please within reason! Always consult a doctor or medical professional when it comes to your diet.

close up iron supplements on a person's hand
Image Credit: AppleDK, Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

When you are figuring out your diet, and all the ins and outs of supplements, you are bound to have a mountain of questions. Never fear—we’ve got you covered with some common Qs and As!

Can I Drink Coffee with Iron Supplements?

Technically, yes! Nothing bad will happen to you, however, you will not see the results that you want. If you are iron deficient and are taking iron supplements, avoid consuming caffeine-rich foods and drinks within an hour of taking your iron supplement.

If you take your iron supplement concurrently with your coffee, or other caffeinated substances, you risk losing the benefits of your iron supplement. The polyphenols in the coffee will absorb the iron instead of your body.

How Long After Taking Iron Can I Drink Coffee?

Wait an hour or more to drink coffee after taking your iron supplement. This will allow for the polyphenols in coffee to go through your system, while ensuring there is no interaction between the polyphenols and the iron.

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In Conclusion

All in all, iron and coffee certainly aren’t the worst of enemies. You simply need to be aware of the effects that coffee may have on your iron absorption. This is something to be wary of if you are iron deficient but, otherwise, it’s smooth sailing!

Featured Image Credit: mayura benjarattanapakee, Shutterstock


Sophie Short

Sophie Short is a freelance writer and coffee expert fully steeped in the specialty coffee community. She formerly worked at a specialty roaster and is now a coffee writer and consultant. She also serves as the San Diego Coffee Network President, where she develops coffee-related non-profit projects. Sophie enjoys travelling, community organizing, and (of course) drinking delicious coffee!

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