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Can You Take Kombucha With Vitamins?

Kombucha is a fermented health drink that many people have on a daily basis for health benefits. If you are drinking Kombucha, you probably also take vitamins and are trying to live a healthy lifestyle; however, have you ever considered if taking vitamins and drinking Kombucha could conflict with one another?

As a general rule taking Kombucha with vitamins is fine. As vitamins may help probiotic bacteria in Kombucha survive the gastrointestinal tract it may even be beneficial to take them together.

There are some other issues to consider. We will need to look at what Kombucha is and what it contains to understand better if its elements will affect the absorption of vitamins or break them down. Additionally, there are some aspects of kombucha that everyone taking it should be aware of.

What is Kombucha?

Originating from Manchuria, China, supposedly, Kombucha is an ever so slightly effervescent, green tea or black tea that is sweetened and is fermented. It is also known as “tea fungus” or “tea mushroom” but as the fungus is yeast which for instance produces wine, do not be put off by the term “fungus”. Kombucha fermentation occurs by adding a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).

The yeast metabolises the sugar to produce ethanol much as in the production of alcoholic drinks such as beer. This is then converted into acetic (ethanoic) acid by one particular bacterium, Gluconacetobacter zylinus although there are many other bacteria in the mixture.

Acetic acid is an organic acid which gives vinegar its taste. Of course acid makes the taste of Kombucha tart/acidic and so sugar or fruit juice is often added to it to make it a more palatable beverage.

The fermentation process also produces glucuronic acid, Vitamin B complex vitamins and polyphenols.

Can you take Kombucha with Vitamins-Kombucha "SCOBY"-symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast
Kombucha “SCOBY”-symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast

Kombucha is consumed for its supposed health benefits partly due to it containing probiotics.

These probiotics (good bacteria) are microorganisms that are meant to boost a person’s health. Probiotic bacteria join the other healthy bacteria in the colon of our intestinal tract. These healthy bacteria form the major part the “microbiome”, which is trillions of microorganisms in our colon including some fungi and viruses.

The health benefits of our microbiome include helping to digest food such as complex carbohydrates which we do not have the enzymes to digest. The bacteria in the microbiome also produce chemicals which we cannot synthesize. The microbiome helps to regulate the immune system, beneficial effects on our brains and even affecting the rate at which we age.

Probiotics also help in prevention of diarrhea when on antibiotics, and help in absorbing and digest nutrients within the intestinal tract which we cannot digest on our own.

There are other health benefits of probiotics that are not dealt with in this article; however, if you would like to know more about probiotics and if you are able to mix them with vitamins, look at my article covering that topic “Can you mix vitamins and probiotics?”.

In weighing up the effect of taking Kombucha with vitamins let’s look at what is known of the effect of Kombucha.

Reports of Harm From Kombucha in Humans

There have been case reports an association to the taking of kombucha with various medical conditions, although this does not mean that kombucha was definitely the cause of these conditions. These reports are rare but concern very serious medical conditions.

There have been reports of lactic acidosis, a life threatening condition, following the ingestion of kombucha needing ITU care.

There have also been case reports of liver damage/hepatitis following long-term ingestion of kombucha. Also there is a case report of hyponatraemia, low serum sodium which can lead to coma.

It could be that the bacteria/yeast culture in these cases was off and in healthy individuals the consumption of 4oz per day is considered safe.

Most kombucha contains about 1% alcohol.

Kombucha is contraindicated in pregnant women.

Possible Benefits-one human study with poor trial design

Kombucha and type 2 diabetes

The first supposed benefit is that Kombucha helps stabilize blood sugar levels. A study researched the impact of Kombucha on rats with diabetes and found that it lowered blood sugar levels. Indeed, the only human research on Kombucha was a study that showed that in diabetics, kombucha lowered blood sugar levels. However, this study did not have a control group, a basic requirement of clinical studies testing an intervention.

Unfortunately, Kombucha contains sugar, and most kombucha beverage made from it has added sugar to make it more palatable. This is obviously not what a person with diabetes needs as they need to maintain a strict blood sugar level.

Possible Benefits-no human studies only animal studies

We would expect that kombucha tea would have the usual generally beneficial effects of fermented food with probiotic bacteria. However, it is different from other forms of fermented food and so this is not a given.

Here are some of the beneficial effects of kombucha seen in animal studies-

  • Production of beneficial compounds-polyphenols, phenols and vitamin B complex
  • Antimicrobial effects-acetic acid provides a hostile environment for microorganisms to survive
  • Liver function protection-in mice kombucha reduced liver damage from acetaminophen
  • Gastrointestinal improvement
  • Immune stimulation
  • Cancer prevention and progression development
  • Cardiovascular disease prevention
  • Diabetes prevention
  • Neurodegenerative disease progression
  • Antioxidant
  • Detoxification for instance of acetaminophen

Balancing the Risks and Benefits of Kombucha

There have been case reports, that is very rare instances of very serious illnesses linked to kombucha. Conversely, there have also been animal studies showing benefit to health from kombucha, but there is almost no good human data.

Given that you can get probiotics and fermented food from sources other than kombucha, you may decide to use these other sources until there are more human randomised controlled trials of kombucha tea so that the risk/benefit of kombucha in humans is better quantified.

Taking Kombucha and Vitamins Together

There are no human studies looking at the effect of taking kombucha tea and vitamins.

In terms of probiotics and vitamins being taken together, it is perfectly fine to do so, and in some cases, it is beneficial to take probiotics and fat-soluble vitamins together so that these vitamins and fatty acids can significantly help the survival of probiotic bacteria as they travel through the stomach and small intestine to reach the colon.

Probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach 30 minute prior to a meal, and fat-soluble vitamins should be taken with meals on a regular basis but not as often as water soluble due to the fact that the body stores fat-soluble vitamins in the liver and fat which act as reservoirs.

The only thing you should worry about is maintaining a correct balance when consuming both. Neither one should be overdone as you may run the risk of creating high levels with subsequent toxicity.

Kombucha, acetic acid, and the absorption of vitamins

One would think that acid of any sort would interfere with the absorption of vitamins; however, apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, and acetic acid can, in fact, increase the body’s absorption of essential minerals from foods we eat.

In this regard, Kombucha, which contains acetic acid due to it being a by-product of its fermentation process is a relatively weak acid which will not degrade vitamins. Hence it will not impact the taking of vitamins in any way.

Conclusion

So you can take Kombucha with vitamins, as neither probiotics nor acetic acid will affect the absorption of vitamins or degrade them. The probiotic bacteria may take up a small amount of the vitamins to use themselves, but this would be a really small amount.

In fact, drinking Kombucha and consuming fat-soluble vitamins may actually be more beneficial than taking them separately. This is because probiotics impact the intestinal tract’s health and ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, which means they work in conjunction with one another.

Acetic acid does not impact the absorption of vitamins in any way whatsoever and can actually be found along with Vitamin C and the B Vitamins in apple cider vinegar.

However, you may wish to consider the risk/benefit of drinking kombucha and whether you would prefer to get your probiotics from other fermented food. At least until further studies of kombucha have been done in humans to give more data on the risk/benefit ratio.

Source list

Kombucha

8 Health Benefits of Probiotics

What are the health benefits of Kombucha?

Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats

Hepatoprotective effects of kombucha tea: identification of functional strains and quantification of functional components

The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review

Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy

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