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Swallowing certain supplements with caffeine means you wont get the benefits

2 min read

A lot of us opt to take supplements as part of our daily regime but we may be failing to reap all the benefits of what we're taking because of we're swigging them down with the wrong drink.

Beware coffee and tea

According to the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS), this includes coffee.

Drinks containing caffeine have been found to stop the body from absorbing calcium - this being said, moderate consumption of coffee hasn't been seen to adversely effect bone density but it can be argued that taking supplements containing calcium a coffee renders the process ineffective.

Similarly, black tea - which contains compounds called tannins - are thought to effect the absorption and availability of calcium and iron.

Top tip to help iron absorption

However, on the plus side there are other drinks that can increase the absorption of certain supplements - this includes orange juice when taken with iron. Orange juice contains vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, and this is used by the body for absorbing iron. When they're digested together, vitamin C combines with iron to form a compound that's more easily absorbed.

If the iron in your meal comes from plant-based foods, you should include at least 25 milligrams of vitamin C in the same meal - you'll get at least that much vitamin C from one serving of cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, sweet peppers, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts, and double that amount from citrus fruits and juices.

Always take omega 3's with a main meal

As far as getting the best out of your supplements, also remember omega 3 fatty acids are best taken alongside a meal containing fat for optimal absorption. This goes for other fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K.

Other food pairings to watch out for

Other food pairings to watch out for include pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds with spinach, rhubarb and parsley. The former group contain phytic acid while the latter contain oxalic acid, these substances will bind together and stop the minerals present in the food from being absorbed by the body.

HSIS also recommend that zinc and copper are not taken together since they compete which each to use the same absorption pathway.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.