A comparative analysis of effects of black and purple tea on iron absorption in adolescent pregnant population
Adolescent pregnancy is a major public health issue in developing countries. It is associated with unique nutritional requirements as well as risk of micronutrient deficiencies. Some of the foods and drinks ingested during pregnancy have been known to affect the absorption of much needed micronutrients and consequently compromise the health of both the mother and the growing foetus. There is scientific evidence to suggest that tannins and phytates in tea and in cereal-based foods inhibit iron absorption and predispose the mother to iron-deficiency disorders such as anaemia and predispose the unborn infant to low-birth weight. In Kenya, the most predominantly grown and consumed tea type is black tea. Studies have shown that consumption of black tea with meals can decrease iron absorption by up to 50%. Purple tea is reported to contain anthocyanins, which have antioxidant effects that provide anticancer benefits, improve vision, and better cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism. If purple tea is to be preferred to the traditional black tea, one has to ascertain that the iron inhibiting tannins are either in low quantities or altogether absent from the purple tea. Eating and drinking habits among pregnant women may exacerbate anaemia prevalence and or other more serious foetal problems. This paper discusses the feeding habits of a pregnant adolescent population and assesses the possible effects of tea drinking on iron absorption and maternal health. The paper found out that black tea drinking in pregnancy, and during meals, is rampant and negatively affects iron absorption. Knowledge about the health benefits of purple tea is not only scanty and where (the knowledge) is available the tea is not readily available for purchase. The paperrecommends awareness of nutrition education to improve the feeding habits.