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The link between caffeine and iron deficiency – is decaf coffee OK for anaemia?

First of all, what is anaemia?

Generally speaking it’s classified as a condition in which your body has fewer red blood cells than it needs. Though food sources of iron are plentiful, it’s a fact that not everyone can absorbs iron as efficiently from various foods. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and pale skin or gums.

Moving on to caffeine and anaemia…

Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anaemia and caffeine can indeed inhibit the absorption of iron. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body using haemoglobin, which binds oxygen in the cells. Parts of haemoglobin is comprised of iron, so when haemoglobin is low, the rate at which oxygen reaches the muscles, skin and the rest of the body is reduced resulting in symptoms like low energy, pale skin and fatigue.

Caffeine is one of several substances that interfere with the absorption of iron, so if you have issues with anaemia, then it is sensible to limit your intake of caffeine. Indeed, the Cleveland Clinic recommends a pause of 1-3 hours between eating meals and taking in caffeine in order to reduce the effect of caffeine’s ability to reduce the absorption of iron. Having said all that, it really depends on the individual. Some people have no issue with caffeine’s effect on iron absorption and others do.

What about decaffeinated coffee and anaemia? Can you still drink decaffeinated coffee if you suffer from anaemia?

The fact is that decaffeinated coffees, such as the Swiss Water Decaf process, has minuscule amounts of caffeine and certainly not enough to effect iron absorption, so on first glance, decaffeinated coffee would appear safe for anaemia sufferers, but there is a little or no research on the matter, hence why we can’t give you guarantees.

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