advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Low on Iron?

I love green tea. I'm a post-menopausal woman and recently discovered that my iron is too low to allow me to continue being a blood donor. Then I read that something in green tea bonds to iron in food and blocks absorption. Could this be the source of my problem?  

A
Answer (Published 8/25/2009)

I doubt it. While it is true that tannins in tea can block absorption of iron, the green tea you drink is unlikely to be the cause of your iron deficiency unless you're consuming huge quantities. Even if you were, the effect of tea tannins on iron absorption seems to be limited to non-heme iron found in vegetables and grains, not heme iron from meat, fish and poultry. Tea (green or black) isn't the only food that influences iron absorption. Other caffeinated beverages, eggs, milk, and bran also interfere. Foods that enhance iron absorption include orange juice and other vitamin-C-rich foods as well as fermented foods such as miso, yogurt and sauerkraut. Foods that provide iron include red meat, beans, lentils, millet, chickpeas, dark, leafy greens, molasses, dried apricots, dried peaches, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, scallops, clams, oysters and soybeans.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

The most common cause of low iron (except in the case of a pre-menopausal woman with heavy menstrual flow) is bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract (a common effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications). You'll need a medical check-up to determine if this is the problem.

Please do not try to increase your iron stores by taking a supplement, except on the recommendation of a physician after blood tests have revealed iron deficiency anemia. While we all need iron to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red pigment of blood, iron is one of the few minerals we cannot eliminate, and accumulations in the body can rise to toxic levels. Iron is an oxidizing agent that can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease. High iron intake can be especially dangerous for persons with hemochromatosis or iron overload disease, an inherited condition believed to affect as many as one million Americans.

The only way the body can eliminate excess iron is through blood loss (which is why premenopausal women are at greater risk of iron-deficiency anemia than post-menopausal women and men).

See your doctor for tests to determine your iron status and a work-up to find the reason for any deficiency. In the meantime, there's no need to stop drinking green tea.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here