Dear Mark: More Coffee Questions (plus a Vegan Vitamin Addition)

Dear_Mark_Inline_PhotoFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering five questions about coffee and one about vegan vitamins. First, was I wrong about Aeropress? Second, what’s my take on CA’s move to put a cancer warning on coffee? Third, is aluminum in coffee makers a problem? Fourth, how does instant coffee stack up? Fifth, how can a person figure out if mold toxins in coffee beans are causing “caffeine jitters”? And finally, are there any other vitamins I’d add to my recommendations for vegan keto dieters?

Let’s go:

Greg Armstrong wrote:

I did notice one small error in the filtered/unfiltered categories above. You listed Aeropress in the unfiltered category, but it uses a paper filter in the cap.

Whoops, you’re right. My main exposure to Aeropress has always been a friend who carries one around with him at all times to whip out a good cup of coffee whenever needed. Real coffee fanatic. He had a metal filter, and I figured they were standard.

Steve wondered:

Great read! I’m curious to know your thoughts on California’s plan to require a cancer warning on coffee. I’m not worried about it, but you likely know more than me.

I covered it a few weeks ago. Short answer: keep not worrying.

Elenor wrote:

Hey Mark,
You didn’t discuss the (actual/physical) coffee makers in relation to health. There’s a fellow on YT whose mother has Alzheimer’s and he (an engineer) began studying the coffee he made for her each day. The aluminum piping IN the maker, over time, puts more and more aluminum into the coffee… He tested a whole bunch of coffee makers (his, his mom’s, some neighbors’ and some he bought). They all put a LARGE amount of aluminum in the coffee! So he studied up some more, bought a bunch of makers (and tested the few he found in his ‘local population’) that are made with stainless steel piping — and they (obviously) did NOT put alum. into the coffee.

He (shows and) lists the coffee makers that use SS piping; I bought the Krups Moka Pot, which makes really good coffee (steams the water; so it’s half-way to espresso?)

Ah, here he is (and he does NOT sell coffee makers or coffee; he does sell his book about making what he calls “silicad”? That’s sodium silicate water that he says selectively binds and pulls the aluminum out of the body. He also provides some detailed answers in the comments (1, 2).

Haven’t ordered his book yet. Don’t know if I will — but replacing my old Cuisinart with its aluminum piping was as easy to decide on as replacing my aluminum cooking pots was!

That’s a really good point I hadn’t considered. Independent research (not from the fellow you describe) confirms that aluminum leaches readily into hot water, and that coffee makers specifically leach aluminum into the finished brew:

  • Boiling tap water in aluminum pans increased the aluminum content of the water to 17 mg per liter.
  • Making coffee in new percolators produced an aluminum content of 0.8-1.4 mg per liter; older percolators gave off less aluminum.

The World Health Organization recommends against consuming water with aluminum levels exceeding 0.2 mg per liter. This seems like a problem.

However, percolators don’t have pipes. The makers you described have aluminum pipes. When water flows through an aluminum pipe versus boiled in a large aluminum pot, more of it’s exposed to the pipe material and if the water’s hot, it’s going to leach way more aluminum. Most people are using conventional coffee makers with piping, not percolators.

Diamondheart asked:

What about instant? I usually drink Mt Hagen Organic Fair Trade instant. Pretty good taste, low acid, and no mess.

I sometimes keep that one around the house. It’s quite good if you add cream, I agree.

Instant coffee in general seems to be a good substitute for fresh brewed, healthwise.

It’s a strong source of antioxidant compounds, just like fresh coffee—or maybe even more so. In simulated intestinal conditions, those compounds are well-absorbed.

Some studies find links between instant coffee consumption and metabolic syndrome, but there’s a huge confounding variable: most people drink instant coffee as a “mix” with powdered creamer (not cream) and sugar added.

Saltybones asked:

Dave Asprey from Bulletproof warns about Mycotoxins forming during the processing of coffee beans, and being the source of the ‘jitters’ as opposed to the caffeine content. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

I haven’t been able to find any good research one way or the other. What you could do to test it out is take a straight caffeine pill and compare that to a cup of coffee.

Matthew Zastrow asked:

What about Vit D, K2, and A?

Yes, great additions.

You need vitamin D3, vitamin K2, and vitamin A in the form of retinol.

Vitamin D3: because few of us spend enough time in the midday sun to make our own, yet we all need it to maintain hormonal health and immune function and build and keep strong bones. The best food sources of vitamin D reside in the animal kingdom. If you’re abstaining from wild salmon, pastured pork, pastured eggs, you’re not eating enough. You could eat sunbathing mushrooms to get your vitamin D, though that’s in the form of vitamin D2 and arguably not as effective as D3.

Here’s a good vegan D3 supplement.

Vitamin K2: because we all want calcium to go where it belongs. In the absence of vitamin K2, calcium tends to end up in the wrong spots, like our arteries. In the presence of vitamin K2, calcium tends to end up in the right places, like our bones and teeth. Fortunately for vegans, the best source of vitamin K2 is natto—a fermented soybean. Unfortunately for vegans on a keto diet, natto is fairly high in carbohydrates, though you could probably squeeze in a serving a day and remain under your carb allotment.

Here’s a good one containing the animal form of vitamin K2. Pair that with some natto every once in awhile for the plant form and you’re covered.

Vitamin A (or zinc): because we’re not all good at converting beta-carotene into retinol. Given that synthetic retinol may be problematic, at least in the context of low vitamin D levels, and you can’t take good natural sources like cod liver oil, I’d urge you to make sure you’re maximizing your ability to convert beta-carotene (from plants) into retinol (the kind of vitamin A that animals like you use). That means eating enough fat with your vegetables to enhance absorption (not a problem, seeing that you’re keto) and obtaining enough zinc from food or supplements to enable proper conversion.

This is a good zinc.

That’s it for today, folks. Take care and be sure to chime in down below with your own input!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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