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Should You Avoid Coffee When You Take Your Vitamins?

Don't worry about drinking coffee when you take your vitamins. It can interfere with the absorption of Synthroid, though, while tea blocks iron absorption.
Male hand holds vitamin complex and dietary supplement capsules of omega 3 glucosamine calcium pills cup of black coffee on dark wooden table.

Do you know how to take your vitamins? Readers often ask us if they should swallow their supplements in the morning or midday, and whether juice or water is the preferred beverage. One reader is wondering about coffee and its impact.

Do You Drink Coffee with Your Vitamins?

Q. I heard on the grapevine (but I know that’s unreliable) that taking my vitamins with coffee means I won’t get the benefit. Is there any truth to this? How can I learn to be smarter about vitamins?

A. In searching the medical literature, we found no evidence that coffee poses problems for vitamin absorption. In fact, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an expert on scientific studies of supplements, suggests that taking vitamin and mineral supplements with breakfast is sensible.

Some Breakfast Beverage Problems:

Coffee can interfere with the absorption of thyroid supplements (levothyroxine). In addition, tea reduces the absorption of iron. A study shows that waiting an hour after taking iron before drinking tea gets around that problem (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec. 2017). 

To learn more about optimizing your vitamin regimen, you may wish to consult Dr. Low Dog’s book, Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More. You will find it at your public library or you can obtain a paperback version here.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More
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Fortify Your Life gives you the evidence-based information you need to decide whether you need a supplement and which format and dose would be best.

Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More
Citations
  • Ahmad Fuzi SF et al, "A 1-h time interval between a meal containing iron and consumption of tea attenuates the inhibitory effects on iron absorption: a controlled trial in a cohort of healthy UK women using a stable iron isotope." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec. 2017. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.117.161364
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I was told by the dietician,after donating my kidney, to avoid coffee with the iron supplements. Coffee also blocks the absorption.

What about instant decaf? Is it okay. Thank you.

I understand also that antacids (i.e. Tums) reduce uptake of medications.

I take dessicated thyroid because synthroid did not work for me after my thryoidectomy. Does it react with coffee like synthroid? There is a lot of info available about synthroid interactions, but not much of any for natural thyroid replacement. Thanks in advance.

In general though, shouldn’t vitamins be taken with food? Specifically, we should read the directions but that often doesn’t happen. For example, my cousin was taking B12 orally, and the directions said sublingually!

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