Chew on This

On when to eat fruit or take a calcium pill


When Shakespeare wrote “timing is everything,” I don’t think he was concerned about whether to take a calcium supplement after drinking coffee, whether he had to eat fruit alone or when to brush his teeth.

A reader posed these questions and I learned some new facts after my research.

A Google search reveals many articles stating that caffeine inhibits calcium absorption. But medical experts take a different view. Consider the view of Dr. Robert Heaney, a professor at Creighton University’s medical school. Writing in the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology 2002, he stated: There is no evidence that caffeine has any harmful effect on bone status or on the calcium economy in individuals who ingest the currently recommended daily allowances of calcium.”

Knowing the form of your calcium supplement is most important. Calcium carbonate needs to be taken with food; calcium citrate can be taken on an empty stomach. Calcium is best absorbed in 500 mg doses. Iron can interfere with calcium absorption so avoid taking calcium with a multivitamin with iron or an iron-rich meal. Iron-rich foods include beef or chicken liver, chicken and fish as well as beans, spinach and tofu.

The reader’s second question concerned a belief that fruit should be eaten alone, not with a meal. The myth-busting site Snopes found this confusion circulating on the Web in 1998. Whether you eat fruit with a meal or on its own, it still will be digested and absorbed. Our digestive tract is complex and can handle what comes down the pipe.

The last question was whether you should wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing. Tooth enamel is weakened after eating acidic food. If you brush while the mouth is in an acidic state, enamel can be removed. Fruit juice, wine, vinegar, soda and sports drinks lead the list of acid-producing foods. Cheese and nuts neutralize the mouth. So whether to brush right away depends on what you eat. For a list of acid-containing foods check out .

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

  • Plastic Surgery 101

    Plastric surgery 101: Puffy eyes can happen to younger people

    Q. I'm 25 and hate the way my eyes look! I know that I'm going to need to get my eyes done but am I too young? I have very puffy eyes in the morning and during the rest of the day they remain puffy. Is there anything I can do now or do I have to wait until I am in my 40s?


    Jock Doc: New advances in hip-replacement surgery can help in the long term

    Q. I have been having hip pain that has gotten worse for several years. I saw my orthopedic surgeon, who said I had bad arthritis and needed a new hip. I have been reading online about minimally invasive hip surgery, robotic hip surgery and traditional hip surgery. Do you have any advice on what I should do?

  • Fit Tip

    Fit tip: Do compression sleeves work?

    Q: I twisted my knee recently. Do compression sleeves work to help recover from an injury? 

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category