I’ve written before that the research shows that taking more than 500 mg of calcium supplements can be very damaging to your cardiovascular system and increase your risk of heart attacks. But there’s another mineral you have to be careful of.
It’s iron. Many people have too much iron in their bodies. And this can lead to premature aging and tissue degeneration.
Usually this is not because they are taking too much iron. It’s typically because their bodies just absorb iron too well.
If you have that problem, you need to know that a recent study shows a very simple and safe way to decrease the absorption of iron.
According to research published in the American Journal of Pathology, it seems that iron has a friend.
This friend is epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG.
You can find EGCG in green tea. And EGCG and iron really enjoy each other’s company – so much so that they immediately bind together if you consume them simultaneously. That will stop the absorption of iron.
And here’s the fun thing. The researchers discovered this through the back door. They were actually looking for something else.
They were looking at a group of mice to determine if green tea would be able to help with the symptoms of colitis.
To do the study, they induced colitis in the mice by giving them dextran sodium sulfate. The inflammation from the colitis increased the production of an inflammatory substance called myeloperoxidase. Then they gave the mice EGCG and discovered that the myeloperoxidase levels decreased, indicating that the EGCG was decreasing the inflammation.
This is one of the ways that drinking green tea or taking EGCG supplements can be helpful for people with colitis. But here’s the kicker. When they gave the EGCG along with iron, the anti-inflammatory effect was wiped out. That’s because iron binds strongly to EGCG.
So there are three things we can learn from these findings.
One, although drinking green tea can be helpful for colitis symptoms, the effect is going to be decreased when you take it with iron supplements or iron-rich foods. These include red meat and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach.
Two, green tea is also touted for many other health benefits but this experiment suggests that consuming green tea along with dietary iron may actually lessen these effects.
And third, if you have elevated iron levels, you can take green tea and/or EGCG supplements with your meals to lower your iron absorption. I drink a lot of green tea and recommend it to many of my patients.
Yeoh, Beng San, Rodrigo Aguilera Olvera, et al. “Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Inhibition of Myeloper-oxidase and Its Counter-Regulation by Dietary Iron and Lipocalin 2 in Murine Model of Gut Inflammation.” The American Journal of Pathology, 2016.
“Green tea and iron, bad combination.” Posted by news on March 8, 2016.