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February 27, 2021

The Effect of Rooibos Tea on Iron Absorption

Fe, the most abundant trace element in the body, forms part of haemoglobin and myoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood and helps release energy while others trace minerals such as Zn, Cu, and Mn are essential for a healthy immune system and are indispensable metals for the activities of Cu-Zn-SOD and Mn-SOD. These minerals form an integral part of the body’s antioxidant enzyme systems and act as cofactors to a number of enzymes (1). Rooibos tea contains small amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride and potassium.


A study was carried out to determine if rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) has a deleterious effect on iron absorption similar to that of ordinary tea (Camellia sinensis). Three groups of volunteers, each consisting of 10 healthy young men comparable with regard to iron status and body dimensions, were studied. After ingestion of elemental iron, group A drank rooibos tea, group B ordinary tea and group C boiled water. Iron absorption was measured 14 days later.

Mean iron absorption after ingestion of rooibos tea, ordinary tea, and water was 7.25%, 1.70% and 9.34% respectively. In contrast to ordinary tea, rooibos tea did not affect iron absorption significantly.


Also the effect of rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) herbal tea consumption on the iron status of adults at risk for developing coronary heart disease was studied. After consuming six cups of rooibos daily for six weeks, Iron-Status Indicators (serum iron, ferritin, transferrin, TIBC and Fe saturation) were determined to assess the iron status of the participants. No significant changes in these biochemical parameters were recorded after completion of the rooibos and control study periods. Results showed that consumption of rooibos tea did not adversely affect the iron status of this study population when taking into account the habitual dietary composition and genetic variation in the HFE gene affecting iron absorption. (3)







1- Kunsevi-Kilola, C. The effect of Rooibos on trace elements absorption and biochemical parameters – A murine model. Retrieved from

2- Hesseling, P.B., Klopper, J.F., & van Heerden, P.D.R. (1979). The Effect of Rooibos Tea on Iron Absorption. South African Medical Journal, 55(16), 631-632. Retrieved from

3- L Marnewick, J., Venter, I., Rautenbach, F., Neethling, H., & Kotze, M. (2013). Rooibos: Effect on Iron Status in South African Adults at Risk for Coronary Heart Disease. 1127, 103–114. Retrieved from


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