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Thread: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

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    Kat
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    Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Just wondering if any women have had problems with drinking coffee and their iron levels? Apparently coffee inhibits iron intake. I cant help but wonder if this is why I am in this position now. Since purchasing my first machine about a year ago I have been having 2-3 espressos a day, since purchasing my lelit combi a few months ago I have been having the same but I think its almost double the grams to make it in this machine. My iron levels have dropped significantly with a level of 13 (didnt mean much to me but comparing it does) most adult women have a level of 30-50 and if it gets as low as 10 it can be serious. I feel drained all the time, tired and now taking the iron tablets have nausea aswell :( so I am now limiting my coffee intake to one a day in the middle of the day. Curious if anyone else has had this?

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    A quick google found this:

    "The normal range of hemoglobin values is 14 to 17 for adult men and 12 to 15 for nonpregnant women. The World Health Organization defines anemia as less than 12 for nonpregnant women and less than 13 for men."

    I havent donated blood for a while but when I went regularly my hemoglobin usually measured around 16.4.

    According to the figures above your 13 is in the healthy range (assuming youre not pregnant).

    I dont know where you obtained your information that gives a scale of 30 - 50 for women.

    From what I know, you are correct that 10 and under is classed as anaemic.

    Given that coffee intake could intefere with iron absorbtion, wouldnt it just make sense not to wash down your spinach with coffee.

    In other words, so long as you are eating iron rich foods and allowing time for the iron to be taken in by your body, drinking coffee at other times will have no effect.

    Nausea is a known side effect of iron tablets.

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    Kat
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    The numbers came from a blood test taken, not sure what they are rated against, it might not be the same guidelines your talking of, as it was my Doctor who said average women my age should be 30-50. She said it would be dangerous for me to donate blood at the moment as they are too low. (I was booked in the next day after my appt. to donate blood so that was out) I dont ever remember getting information like that when Ive donated blood? Did you request it?
    So you think its just drinking coffee at the same time as eating iron? Ill have to do a research on it, just thought I should warn women coffee lovers that there is a downside of drinking too much.

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    When you give blood they always test your hemoglobin.
    Usually you can see the reading on the machine but if you cant just ask or check on your printout that goes with you to the donation bed.

    If you had gone to give blood before seeing your doctor they would have turned you away after that preliminary test.
    Ive seen them do it.

    As for my theory about drinking coffee at the same time as eating your iron, think about it.
    You already said coffee inhibits the intake of the iron,*not that it takes iron out of your body.
    Logically then, if you havent eaten food with iron in it, the coffee cannot inhibit something which isnt there.

    So if you are deficient in iron, (my wife is) and eat iron rich foods to combat the problem, you just need to also be aware of when you drink your coffee.

    Just ask your doctor (or get a second opinion) about my theory.

    Im lucky that my iron borders on the high side, although the Blood Bank worries that it doesnt get any higher.

    As I dont drink coffee after about 4:00pm any iron in my evening meal is safe from inhibition by coffee.

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Kat link=1224120632/0#0 date=1224120631
    *My iron levels have dropped significantly with a level of 13 (didnt mean much to me but comparing it does) most adult women have a level of 30-50 and if it gets as low as 10 it can be serious. *I feel drained all the time, tired and now taking the iron tablets have nausea aswell :( so I am now limiting my coffee intake to one a day in the middle of the day. *Curious if anyone else has had this?
    maybe you may use cast iron and high carbon iron pan at home for cooking. Those add iron to the food and also are considered healthier in general.
    in this case hopefully coffee and pan will cancel effects of each other....

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Kat youre right, TG is wrong. 13 refers to ug/L, which is low. Anything under 20 and it becomes a worry. If your levels remain at that rate for several months you will start drawing on your long term stores (not good). Heavy menstration due to PCOS or endemetriosis is often the cause of such low levels. You may think you are ingesting enough iron but in fact you arent. I wouldnt worry about cutting back on the coffee unless the doctor instructed you to do so. :)

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    oro
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Did your doctor confirm that your iron was low, or is that your interpretation of the blood test results? Im not a doctor, but my understanding is that normal levels of haemoglobin for women are around 12-15g/dl, and normal haematocrit (red blood cell count) levels for women are around 32-48%. Its all related, but theyre different numbers measuring different things. Unless your haematocrit really is 13 (and Id hazard a guess that youd be dearly departed if it was), it sounds more like its 13 for haemoglobin a tad low, but nothing alarming. *

    All that aside, the easiest way to ensure youre absorbing as much heme and non-heme iron sources when you eat is to consume vitamin c at the same time swap your coffee for orange juice and leave the coffee for in between meals.

    Hope that helps *;)

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    I think you are all talking about different things if im not wrong Kat is referring to her Ferritin levels.

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    I dont know about anyone else but Im not comfortable with this. providing espresso advice online is one thing; providing medical advice is another. Even if we were all medically trained, I dont think we know enough about Kats medical history to provide advice. I dont mean any offence or question anyones credentials - I think we need to be careful.

    Kat - it sounds like you are already receiving medical advice. If you are not getting the answers you need from the doctor, get a second opinion. In my experience, pathology reports provide both the actual level and the normal limits for any test


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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1224120632/0#1 date=1224123257

    I dont know where you obtained your information that gives a scale of 30 - 50 for women.
    As flynnaus has now mentioned serology results usualy indicate the normal levels from which you can compare yours. It would seem Kat is stating the limits mentioned on her test result.


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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    flynnaus - I did already suggest a second opinion or more questions to the doctor. You repeating it is a good thing.

    NE1 - I concede the point I was wrong on but in my defence did question that we were talking about the same scale.

    In support of my suggestion, oro has also suggested drinking coffee at other times.

    KAT - ask the doctor as many questions as you need to until you are comfortable that you understand the test results and its implications.

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    My lovely lady has been drinking between 10-15 coffees per day since I first met her (about 35 years ago) and has blood results that are always very healthily normal, so I dont know that coffee has anything to do with low iron. If it did, my wifes iron levels would be lower than the bottom of the Dead Sea. I second the recommendations made by others above; seek a second opinion just to make sure...

    Mal.

    P.S.
    One set of pathology results does NOT a health issue solve. Most Medicos will want to see a pattern of abnormal readings before making a diagnosis.... been there, done that :(

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    good news

    Hey Kat, I think I might have some good news for you... start drinking decaf coffee for a couple of months and see how that goes.

    I[ch8217]ve read that its not coffee, but rather the actual caffeine which reduces your iron.. however it[ch8217]s a matter of contention in the science community, and you[ch8217]ll see people arguing either way.. it[ch8217]s pretty complicated and the chemical reactions regarding coffee and caffeine are beyond me!

    But still, I[ch8217]d say it[ch8217]s worth a try.

    So if I were you Id start with that, along with a review of your diet to see where you can squeeze in more iron.. for example, throw on spinach leaves instead of lettuce, make sure youre having enough vitamin C to help you absorb your iron.. stuff like that :)

    Iron is strange, my wife had big iron problems when we first met, particularly when she was pregnant for the first time. A couple of years later she actually became a vegetarian and her iron levels are actually better, they were also much better during her second pregnancy (in comparison to the first when she actually ate red meat all the time).. interesting hey..

    Rolley

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    Kat
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Sorry, didnt mean to start a medical debate here, I just wondered if others knew of the relationship between coffee and iron intake. That was the relevance of posting it here.
    Yes, I did get all info. from my Dr who I trust implicitly, it is just that I wondered if anyone else had experienced the same thing from starting to drink espresso regularly. I personally cant help but think it is related as my coffee intake has increased quite a bit.
    As NE14coffee says, I think its my ferritin level she is talking about which measures your iron.
    Thanks.
    Kat

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    I guess I must be lucky - Ive been a fairly high coffee drinker for years (at least one large commercial latte a day and about 3-4 instants until I got my espresso maker and now about 3-4 home made lattes a day since getting my machine.

    Ive fortunately never had a problem with my iron levels, including both times I was pregnant when my iron levels were being monitored at fairly regular intervals by my doctor, although I dont generally drink coffee with a meal (sometimes a coffee is my meal, which is probably not good!) and eat a fair amount of red meat and usually have spinach leaves and rocket in any salad I have, both of which are high in iron and Im a big vegie eater also.

    I can usually tell if my iron levels are dropping a bit (never a lot) because I start craving a nice, juicy steak badly so I feed the urge and all is good again. About the lowest I have ever dropped in iron levels, I think, was when red meat was so expensive a couple of years ago and, with two children to feed, we subsisted mostly on chicken and pork because it was cheaper. Fortunately the price dropped again so we were able to go back to our normal 3-4 meals a week with red meat.

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Hi Kat,

    Im still studying medicine so not qualified to give any advice. As other people have said, its best to ask your GP if youve got any questions (and it sounds like you have done so)! Im actually a bit confused by the figures you are quoting because general values for female iron studies (varies from lab to lab) are:
    Iron (generally measured in umol/L): 10-30 umol/L
    Transferrin: 1.5-3.5 g/L --> this is a transporter of iron which rises in response to low iron
    Transferrin saturation: 20-50% --> this is the percent of transferrin which is bound to iron; it is generally low in iron deficiency
    Total Iron Binding Capacity: 45-75umol/L --> this is the amount of transferrin bound iron possible; can be high in iron deficiency because of the increase in transferrin
    Ferritin: 15-200ug/L --> this is an indicator of iron stores; low in anaemia
    My guess would be that you are quoting either iron or ferritin but neither really make sense given your value and the reference values. If it is iron, than it appears to be within the normal range (if my iron reaches 13 im happy!). If it is ferretin then the range that I am referencing is way above the 30-50 that you quoted. Anyway. EDIT...just reread your post and it does sound like ferretin; it makes sense if the GP said most women your age have a range of 30-50 (i read that wrong the first time, i thought that was the min-max range). If that is the case then yep it is low (although you Dr would have looked at the whole picture that is painted by the different test values not just ferretin as we are all speculating on).

    Anyway, now that ive brushed up on my study...

    Im not anaemic at the moment but have been very anaemic in the past (my iron got to 5umol/L, and ferritin got to 6ug/L a few years ago!!!!). Its really common for women to get anaemic for obvious reasons but my GP also told me about coffee when she was telling me of modifiable lifestyle choices to try to improve my iron status. However what i was told (and the information sheet my GP gave me; sourced from the Dietitians Association of Australia) said that coffee and tea "have substances in them that can interfere with the absorption of non-haem iron". This suggests to me that if you consume adequate haem iron containing foods (i.e. meat) than consuming coffee shouldnt be a big issue. If you rely on non-haem iron (the form found in vegetables etc) as I did, then coffee and tea might be something you want to avoid when consuming your main haem-containing meals (the information sheet suggests avoiding tea and coffee within 30 mins of such meals).

    FWIW I did change my coffee/tea intake and started eating meat etc but for me that didnt do much and at the end of the day it was much easier taking iron tablets (although some people dont tolerate them well). Im currently drinking more coffee than i was at that stage and eating a small amount of meat and not taking the iron tablets any more and my iron is still OK thank goodness. Its something I (and many gals I know) have to keep an eye on, as levels can slowly creep down and you find yourself forgetting what it feels like to feel normal; but unfortunately it then takes months of iron supplementation to feel better again.

    (Also, popeye impregnanted our little minds with a lie when he told us that spinach is high in iron; its non-haem iron and very poorly absorbed.)

    Hope that helps Kat. And I hope you start to feel better soon!!! All the best!

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    Kat
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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Thanks Sanch, that was very valuable info. Ill just try to have my coffees at morning and afternoon tea break kinda times instead of meals. :) Yay, nice to know I can enjoy it without worrying too much.
    Thanks all

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    Re: Iron Levels in Women and Coffee

    Hey Kat. Glad that helps. Also, I found that "Ferro-f-tab" (one of the types of iron tablets out there) gave me the least symptoms (nausea, GIT pain etc) and a few of my friends have found that too. It might be worth a try if the tablets you are currently on give you too much nausea.
    Cheers
    -Sanch

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Post Wait for your coffee

    Did anyone catch "I'm a Doctor, Trust Me" on SBS last night? Excellent series from the ubiquitous Dr Michael Mosley and team.

    One section was about maintaining iron levels. The advice was to wait for at least 30 mins after breakfast for your morning cuppa as coffee inhibits iron absorption. It specifically mentioned iron-rich foods like fortified cereals. Putting this up as FYI only and plenty of us can drink coffee at any time of day without ill effect. As always, talk to your doctor if you have concerns about iron levels

    https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45484358

    How you prepare your food and what you drink with it can also change how much iron you absorb.
    To demonstrate this, Prof Sharp carried out some experiments to mimic human digestion.
    The tests mimicked the effect of the enzymes involved in digesting food and the chemical reaction that occurs in human gut cells to show how much iron would be absorbed.


    Prof Sharp showed that if you drink orange juice with your fortified breakfast cereal you absorb much more iron than when eating the cereal on its own - because orange juice contains vitamin C, which makes it easier to absorb iron from food.
    But, disappointingly, if you drink coffee with your morning bowl of cereal, then that will mean you absorb significantly less iron.
    Why? Well, according to Prof Sharp, it's because coffee is full of chemicals called polyphenols that are very efficient at binding to the iron and making that iron less soluble.


    So, if a fortified cereal is your breakfast of choice, then having a small glass of orange juice or an orange will help increase your iron uptake. You might also want to consider postponing your morning coffee until at least 30 minutes after you've eaten.
    PS Check this out too
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/art...-or-bad-for-me
    level3ninja likes this.

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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Interesting. It appears that tea, also, contains polyphenols. Did they mention only coffee? I commonly have both orange juice and tea as part of breakfast (coffee comes later in the morning) so my gut is hopelessly confused.



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