Top Food Nutrient Combinations
Learn about the important food combinations for optimum nutrient absorption.
Getting the most nutrition out of your kitchen fridge or backyard garden can be as easy as applying a few main principles. While some nutrients taken together improve the absorption of others, some nutrients can inhibit absorption all together.
Foods that Complement Absorption
Vitamin C and Iron
Iron comes in two forms, heme and non-heme. Non-heme iron is the found in plants and is not as well absorbed as heme iron found in animal products. Vitamin C helps switch iron to the ferrous state, which is easier absorbed.
- Add beets to a shake or meal
- Squeeze a fresh orange or lemon on top of a spinach salad
- Add sliced strawberries to any breakfast cereal; hot or cold
- Add green peas to your kidney bean salad
Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D
Vitamin D acts like a traffic controller guiding calcium into your bone to make them strong. Since Vitamin D is hard to obtain in sufficient quantities from the sun a supplement is best recommended to take alongside Calcium.
Fat soluble Vitamins and Fat
Fat soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K which require fat to be present to be ideally absorbed in the body.
- Olive oil drizzled on baked sweet potatoes
- Unsalted almonds or walnuts as a great afternoon snack
- Mashed avocado spread on whole grain toast
- Pine nuts sprinkled on asparagus or broccoli
Foods that Inhibit Absorption
Calcium and Iron
These minerals bind together preventing absorption in the body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a dose of 165 mg of Calcium (in Milk form) reduced iron absorption as much as 50-60%. It is recommended for Calcium to be taken at bedtime for not only improved absorption but a better sleep too for its muscle relaxing properties.
Example items to not combine:
- Broccoli with Kidney Beans
- Kale with Lentils
Oxalic Acid and Calcium or Magnesium
Oxalic acid binds to calcium to form insoluble salts that cannot be absorbed. It too hampers the absorption of Magnesium.
Example items to not combine:
- Almonds or cashews with Sesame seeds
- Spinach and fortified soy/rice milk
Phosphoric Acid and Calcium
Phosphoric acid binds to calcium in the intestine forming calcium phosphates which are not absorbed.
- Limit pop consumption which is extremely high in phosphoric acid and only drink away from Calcium rich beverages like fortified soy milk.
The Holy Trifecta: Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Magnesium
When it comes to your health, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Magnesium are remarkably nutritive allies. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, supporting a variety of functions throughout your body. Vitamin D and Calcium seamlessly work together to protect your bones. Calcium builds and maintains your bones, while Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium and Magnesium work together to provide a similar value. Magnesium keeps calcium out of the soft tissue and within the bones, where it’s needed most.
Let’s start with a deep-dive into Vitamin C. We’ve heard about the benefits of Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, for a long time. Discovered by biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi’s in the 1930s, this remarkable chemical enables the body to healthfully sustain itself and helps it efficiently use fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Centuries ago, when fresh vegetables were not always easy to find, sailors would experience fatigue, weakness, open sores, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and unusual hemorrhages beneath the skin. The condition was known as Scurvy, and in the 15th century, it ravaged sailors and low-income families, causing sickness, disability, and death. Szent-Györgyi’s won a Nobel Peace Prize for his discoveries, the lot of which provided excellent value for the British Navy.