Vitamins and coffee

If you’ve ever gulped down your vitamin supplements with a swig of coffee and wondered if the combination might be a bad idea, you’re not alone. An HSI member named Val sent an e-mail with this question:

“I heard on the radio that to take food supplements with the morning coffee is a big “no-no.” Is that true? I’ve done it for many years, and I’m still alive and well.”

Good question, Val. Let’s see what HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., has to say about it:

“Other than wasting some money, I know of no danger inherent to taking vitamins with coffee. The problem is similar to taking vitamins with no food at all, only compounded by the fact that coffee tends to more rapidly flush B-complex (the water soluble vitamins) out of the system compared to water only.

“But I want to stress one thing: Supplements are exactly that — supplements. They aren’t ‘food’ in and of themselves (well, some arevitamin C and phytonutrient supplements would qualify, for example). Mixing vitamin supplements with food is an effort to ‘trick’ the body into thinking it just received some really nutrient dense, high quality food.

“Vitamins are not superior to food (and certainly not a replacement for it). The problem is that, with the quality of our soils, the stresses from all the various chemicals in the air, water, meat, soil, etc., and the extensive processing of our foods, we no longer get nutrient dense, natural food the way our distant ancestors did. That’s why I believe (absolutely) that optimum health mandates supplemental intake. Also, for some disease states, far higher dosages may be necessary to obtain an effect (whether due to poor absorption, enzyme deficiency, increased metabolic need, or whatever).”

There you go, Val. No need to avoid that morning cup of java, but you’ll probably help the cause if you put some distance between your vitamins and your Folgers.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute