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Does anything inhibit iron absorption?

Iron absorption can be influenced by several factors that inhibit its uptake in the body. Here is a list of some factors that inhibit its absorption:

1. Phytate: a compound found in certain plant-based foods, such as legumes, whole grains, and seeds. Phytates bind to iron, forming insoluble complexes that hinder its absorption.

2. Tannins: naturally occurring compounds in tea, coffee, and some fruits, can also interfere with iron absorption by forming complexes that limit its availability for uptake.

3. Calcium: commonly found in dairy products and fortified foods, calcium can inhibit iron absorption when consumed simultaneously. High levels of calcium can reduce the uptake of both heme and non-heme iron.

4. Certain medications: medications including antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and some antibiotics, can negatively affect iron absorption.

Understanding the inhibitors of iron absorption and adopting strategies to counteract their effects can help maintain optimal iron levels in the body. By incorporating iron-rich foods, avoiding simultaneous consumption of inhibitors, and optimizing iron absorption-enhancing factors, individuals can support their iron status and overall well-being.


  1. National Institute of Health. (2020). Iron. Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from

  2. Hallberg, L., & Hulthén, L. (2000). Prediction of dietary iron absorption: an algorithm for calculating absorption and bioavailability of dietary iron. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71(5), 1147-1160.

  3. Reddy, M. B., Hurrell, R. F., & Cook, J. D. (2000). Estimation of nonheme-iron bioavailability from meal composition. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(4), 937–943.

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