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.

How does caffeine affect 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.

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.

Are there other components in coffee, besides caffeine, that may impact iron absorption or contribute to anaemia?

Regarding the impact of other components in coffee on iron absorption, coffee contains compounds called polyphenols, which can bind to non-heme iron - the type of iron found in plant-based foods - and may inhibit its absorption.

This means that even decaffeinated coffee might potentially affect iron absorption due to these other constituents. However, the extent to which this occurs and its significance in the diet of an individual with anaemia is not well established.

What are the best practices for someone with anaemia to ensure they are getting enough iron from their diet, and how can they balance this with consuming decaffeinated coffee?

For individuals with anaemia who wish to ensure adequate iron intake, it's crucial to focus on consuming iron-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, lentils, beans, and fortified cereals. Including a source of vitamin C with meals, such as fruits or vegetables, can enhance non-heme iron absorption.

Those with anaemia should ideally consult a dietitian for personalised dietary advice, which would take into account their coffee consumption, including decaffeinated varieties.

Can the method of decaffeination, such as the Swiss Water Process mentioned, affect any other nutrients in coffee that might be beneficial or detrimental for someone with anaemia?

In terms of the decaffeination process affecting other nutrients in coffee, the Swiss Water Process is known for its ability to remove caffeine without the use of chemicals, which might help in retaining more of the original compounds found in coffee.

However, the process may still alter the concentration of some of the compounds that could have nutritional implications. As of now, there isn't much research on how different decaffeination processes affect the nutritional profile of coffee in the context of anaemia. It would be beneficial for more studies to be conducted to determine how decaffeination may influence the health of individuals with anaemia.

IMPORTANT: This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. Nothing in the content or products should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs.

May 13, 2017 — Guy Wilmot


Kathryn said:

It’s actually the tannins in coffee and tea that inhibit iron absorption, not the caffeine at all. Black tea has a lot more tannins that coffee so it inhibits more than coffee. Decaf does not help as the tannins are still present. Best bet is take caffeine tablets instead of tea or coffee and avoid tannins altogether . Caffeine itself actually does not inhibit iron absorption. There is plenty of research on this.

Rheena said:

Can anaemia cause excessive thirst ?

Nigel Fowler said:

Plenty about decaf coffee, what about tea!
Does decaf tea substantially deplete iron reserves?

Jepinhenia said:

Hey, this might be off topic, but where did you get the HTML template for the web site? Thank you!

Missiec76 said:

I have been told milk and dairy products also stop iron absorption..
So would iron fortified cereal be useless unless it is eaten without milk? Also how can you help iron deficient toddlers and babies considering the amout of dairy they need in their diets…?

shan said:

I was diagnosed with anemia three years ago but had no clue of the effects coffee would have had on persons with anemia. I had not taken my tablets for about four days and I started to feel really tired and light headed so I bypassed it because I had not eaten anything all morning. I made a cup of really strong coffee and like three minutes after I started breathing heavily and shaking to the point I couldn’t speak or hold anything. would that be a result of drinking the coffee or would it be something else?

Guy said:

With regards to personal health issues, we can’t comment and recommend you visit a Health Professional/Doctor if you have any health concerns.

Lawrence said:

Hi i am a 50 year man

I’m always fatigued,tired,sleeping less and i have joint pains as well.
Could it mean i am anaemic

Coffee Addict said:

I understand it’s the Tannins in Coffee and Tea that actually blocks the absorption of B12 (other wise it’s pointless to have it in RedBull).

Guy said:

I’m afraid we can’t give you specific medical advice. We recommend you to consult a Doctor.

L.E. said:

Can decaf coffee be had with meals. One cup. I have low iron . ..My blood cells is ll.3 based on l3.2 limit Hemoglobin is ll.3 compared to low limit of l3.2 Tongue is not all pink. Carbon Dioxide is 29 compared to upperlimit 31. I have always been a coffee and Tea drinker. What else should be tested. Is ferritin suggested for tiredness.

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