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by Geoff Rand

I want to preface this article by disclosing that I have had exactly two sips of coffee ever, once in 1993 after being ordered to by my first sergeant in the Army and then in 1998 after being ordered to by my field training officer at the police department.  Neither was a pleasurable experience and to this day, I avoid the substance.

But, as a journalist, I am able to research and write about any topic, even if I have little to no actual experience with the topic.  So when Amanda suggested I look into the effects of caffeine on vitamin absorption, I sat down with a bottle of soda and got to work.

While coffee has been shown to have many positive characteristics like reducing the chances of some cancers developing, decreasing the chances of getting type II diabetes, dementia, or Parkinson’s disease, and is a good source of antioxidants, let’s face it, most people drink it simply for the caffeine it contains and it’s effect on stimulating the body to wake up or stay awake, while simultaneously reducing the urge to punch others in the throat.

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But the caffeine in coffee, or other drinks such as teas or sodas, can actually block or limit the absorption of some vitamins and you need to be aware of this effect of caffeine and tailor your intake of vitamins appropriately.

Here are a few examples of the effect caffeine has on vitamins and minerals.

Caffeine causes calcium to be excreted in urine and feces.  Studies have shown that women who had a high intake of caffeine (more than two cups a day) had a higher incidence of hip fractures than those who drank in moderation.

Caffeine can inhibit vitamin D receptors and can interfere with the absorption of iron, manganese, zinc, and copper.

The diuretic effect of caffeine also depletes most B-family vitamins through the fluid lost during excretion.  Magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphate are also excreted in fluids after drinking caffeine.

So, for the vast majority of coffee drinkers, giving up coffee is out of the question.  So what are you to do if you want to have your coffee but want to take and get the full benefit of vitamins?

The meme and t-shirt “But first, coffee” seems to have our answer.  You can still enjoy your coffee, just drink it first and then take your vitamins and supplements about an hour later with a glass of water.