You Caffeinated Epiphanians would likely be interested in this tidbit:
Consumption of tea inhibits absorption of iron. Specifically, it inhibits absorption of those types of iron found in vegetable and plant matter. It's not the caffeine that specifically acts as an inhibitor; rather, it is the tannins present in the tea (and I would think longer brewing = more tannins ).
Coffee also inhibits iron absorption, but not by as much. Tea can inhibit certain types of iron absorption by 62% when imbibed following a meal! Tea does not inhibit absorption of those types of iron found in meat, however.
Thought my vegetarian tea-loving friends might like to know about this as they would be the ones most likely affected.
Tea is generally considered to be very good for you, containing flavanoids, which are poly-phenol antioxidants found in many foods and plants, including tea leaves, and have been shown to help prevent cell damage. In addition, research has shown that tea has an overall effect of being hydrating despite containing caffeine, and most tea also contains fluoride, which helps strengthen your teeth.
However, if you are at risk (ie if you eat a primarily vegetarian diet and consume tea with meals) or are experiencing some of the following anemic symptoms, you may want to be cautious about tea consumption and talk to your doctor.
Iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Increased likelihood of infections
- Brittle nails
- Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or pure starch
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
- Restless legs syndrome — an uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs
Check out today's New York Times article on tea and iron absorption for more info: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/health/30real.html?ref=health
Please note that too much iron is not good for you either. Consult your doctor before making any drastic changes in your iron intake.