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Drinks that Improve Vitamin Absorption

What you drink with your meals is more important than you might think. Read on for more information on why your mealtime drinks can do more harm than good, and find some recommendations for what to drink with meals and what to avoid.

What to Drink with MealsIron is an important mineral, especially for women. At least 40% of women in Britain and America are susceptible to iron deficiency anaemia. We drink things like tea, coffee and milk without a second thought, but these can actually keep the iron we get in our diets from being absorbed properly. This is particularly bad news for women, who lose over 50% more iron than men as a result of menstruation.

Caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks have a negative affect on iron absorption. Drinking caffeine with a meal can stop up to half of the iron from being absorbed, as well as affecting the absorption of other minerals such as calcium and zinc. We need calcium for healthy teeth and bones, and this mineral also plays a part in making sure our blood clots properly and that our muscles stay strong. Any drink containing caffeine is best drunk at least one hour before or after a meal to give the iron and other minerals time to absorb.

Milk also hinders iron absorption, so milky tea or coffee is a double no-no as a mealtime drink. As with caffeinated drinks, it's best to avoid drinking milk at least an hour either side of meals. If the meal has calcium but doesn't contain iron, it's fine to drink milk with it to help the calcium to absorb, but still stay clear of the tea and coffee as they will interfere with the calcium absorption.

Alcohol is another drink to stay clear of at mealtimes, with the exception of wine. As well as containing a small amount of iron, wine also plays a part in iron absorption, so make like the French and drink a glass with your evening meal. For all other alcohol, leave an hour either side of meals. It destroys vitamin B6 by separating it from its protective binding, and directly intervenes with B12 absorption into the intestines. As well as interfering with vitamin and mineral absorption, alcohol also tends to deplete the body of vitamin and mineral reserves.

One drink that is definitely recommended at mealtimes is orange juice. The ascorbic acid found in vitamin C drinks promotes the absorption of iron. The iron and vitamin C should be taken as close together as possible for maximum effectiveness. Foods that are rich in vitamin C (such as cauliflower) have the same effect as a vitamin C drink.

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