Can Drinking Tea Cause Iron Deficiency?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Ask the Diva: Can Drinking Tea Cause Iron Deficiency?

Q. I’ve read that tea contains tannins that block the absorption of iron from foods. I love iced tea and drink it with every meal, but now I’m worried that I might be setting myself up for an iron deficiency.  Should I not drink tea with meals?

A. You’re right: the tannins in tea can interfere with the absorption of iron from vegetables. But unless you’re a strict vegan, you probably don’t need to worry about drinking tea with meals.

Not only is the iron found in meat, fish, and poultry very well absorbed (even if you drink tea at the same time), these foods also enhance your ability to absorb the iron in the vegetables that you eat at the same meal. Foods containing vitamin C also enhance the absorption of iron from those veggies.  These factors are thought to compensate for the effect that tannins have on iron absorption.

More information on tea:

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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