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Polyphenol side effect studied


One of the healthful benefits derived from drinking green tea comes from polyphenol antioxidants which are present there. Polyphenols have been proven to have benefits like delaying some cancers and being good for preventing heart disease. But a new study has revealed a side effect that for some could be serious.

Penn State nutritional scientists report in the Journal of Nutrition that certain polyphenols decrease the amount of iron the body is able to absorb and can lead to iron deficiency.

“Polyphenols have been known to have many beneficial effects for human health, such as preventing or delaying certain types of cancer, enhancing bone metabolism and improving bone mineral density, and decreasing risk of heart disease,” said Okhee Han, assistant profession of nutritional sciences. “Not many people have thought about whether or not polyphenols affect nutrient absorption.”

The researchers found that polyphenols bind to iron in the intestinal cells preventing iron absorption. The iron-polyphenol complex cannot enter the blood stream so it takes the slow ride out the body via the intestinal tract.

For anemics or people who suffer anemia as a side effect of other disorders, they need to be particularly careful. Iron is necessary to oxygenate the body and carry on other cellular functions. You really can’t do without it and suffer with diminished amounts.

“Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutrient deficiency in the world, especially in developing countries where meats are not plentiful,” Han said. “People at high risk of developing iron deficiency - such as pregnant women and young children - should be aware of what polyphenols they are consuming.”

Hann and her associates have received a grant from the National Institutes of Health, national Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to develop the research and eventually do human testing.

Source: Penn State, Science Daily


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