Many of us can’t imagine going a day without caffeine. Whether it’s a cup of tea, an iced latte or even an espresso martini, we crave caffeine for its ability to make us alert, productive and energetic.
Overindulging on caffeinated products can, however, entail some undesirable consequences. Milder signs of caffeine overdose include shakiness and feeling anxious, while more severe symptoms include panic attacks and an irregular heartbeat.
However, side effects like these aren’t the only negative consequence of too much caffeine. It can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals.
The impact of caffeine on vitamins and minerals
Caffeine is a mild diuretic. This is why you may urinate more when you’re consuming caffeinated drinks. Since you will be urinating more, it’s more likely that this fluid loss will result in a loss of water-soluble nutrients before your body can absorb them. These include Vitamin C and the B Vitamins.
Additionally, coffee and tea contain an enzyme that breaks down Vitamin B1 (thiamine).
One large study found that coffee consumption correlated with lower levels of B Vitamins in middle-aged people. Ironically, low Vitamin B1 (thiamine) levels can cause fatigue and irritability despite caffeine’s temporary, energising effects.
A 1983 study found that drinking coffee reduced iron absorption by 39% and 64% when drinking tea when eating a hamburger meal. Researchers also found that the stronger the coffee, the less iron was absorbed.
Not getting enough iron can result in iron deficiency anaemia – where blood does not have sufficient healthy red blood cells are therefore fails to transport oxygen to the body’s tissues. Symptoms can include fatigue and weakness, as well as chest pain and headaches. Since meat is a common source of iron, vegetarians and vegans are particularly vulnerable.
Furthermore, consumption of caffeinated drinks may deplete magnesium levels. This vital mineral is needed for countless reactions throughout the body: the immune system, energy production, bone health and so on. In fact, magnesium deficiency is among the most common deficiencies globally.
Like iron deficiency anaemia, one of the common signs of magnesium deficiency is fatigue as well as nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Because symptoms like these can be attributed to many sources, it’s best to contact your doctor if you think you may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
What to do
If you’re concerned about caffeine interrupting your nutrition, try to avoid consuming it at mealtimes.
According to researchers, increasing levels of copper and Vitamin C may help your body absorb iron more effectively and mitigate the effects of caffeine on your nutrition.
If you’d rather cut out caffeine, nutrient-rich alternatives may still help you feel energised and alert. For example, bananas, which are rich full of Vitamin B6 and potassium, have been shown to give you an energy boost after consumption.
A healthy breakfast alternative to coffee like oatmeal could also help you up your intake of B vitamins and minerals, including iron and manganese. These nutrients are essential for energy and can help mitigate signs of fatigue.
Should you be worried?
While anything that affects our nutrition is a cause for concern, don’t throw out your teapots and brewers just yet.
Caffeine has several potential benefits for our health, including possibly providing a defence against Alzheimer’s disease and liver cancer.
Moreover, moderate caffeine consumption – 300-400 millilitres per day – is unlikely to pose a risk to health and may offer health benefits.
Nutrients may be lost if consuming caffeine during mealtimes, but researchers have found that drinking coffee at least an hour before or after a meal has no impact on nutrient absorption.
If you’re concerned about nutrition deficiencies, our goal-oriented formulations may help you mitigate losses in vitamins and minerals and help you achieve your health aspirations.
If your B Vitamins and magnesium levels have taken a hit from caffeine consumption, supplements such as Brain Health Goals may help you increase your levels of these energy-boosting nutrients.
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To maximise the efficacy of supplements, however, it’s probably best to avoid swallowing them with a mouthful of coffee!
You must not rely on the information on this blog as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or therapist. If you have any specific concerns about your mental or physical health, you should consult your doctor and you should not delay seeking medical advice, or treatment for your mental health, because of the information on this blog.