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Could coffee be sabotaging your vitamin C levels?

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

You’ll probably know that vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning that your body doesn’t make it so you must get it from the foods you eat. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that your body can’t store it in your fat cells to be used when needed as it does with fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D. Instead, vitamin C is secreted by your kidneys and eliminated every time you pass urine. This is why you need a regular supply.

Vitamin C is powerful antioxidant which helps the body fight oxidative damage from free radicals found in pollution and as a by-product of your body’s energy production. You need 40mg of vitamin C every day,1 and if you regularly eat plenty of peppers, leafy green vegetables and a variety of fruits then you’re doing your bit to provide your body with enough of this vital vitamin.

However, did you know that caffeine interferes with the absorption of vitamin C, meaning that you might not be getting the full benefits of your healthy diet if you regularly drink coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages alongside meals?

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How caffeine could be blocking your absorption of vitamin C

When you sip a cup of coffee alongside an orange as a morning snack, you are risking the caffeine from the coffee preventing proper absorption of the orange’s vitamin C content. Caffeine increases blood flow throughout your body including to your kidneys, causing them to filter through waste faster thus having a diuretic effect - making you need to urinate. The vitamin C from the orange might be eliminated in your urine before your body has had a chance to absorb its goodness.

Not only this, but caffeine is a stimulant which wakes up your digestive system by encouraging muscle contractions along your intestinal tract. This enables waste to be eliminated faster than if you hadn’t consumed a caffeinated drink. While this can be good to keep you regular, it can also eliminate vitamins and minerals along with other waste before they’ve had a chance to be fully absorbed into your body.

Now you know the effects of caffeine consumption on vitamin absorption, it’s easy to make a simple change to your dietary routine which will remedy the potential negative effects. Instead of drinking caffeinated drinks with snacks and meals, wait at least half an hour before and after eating to enjoy your coffee or tea.

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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

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  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c/
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