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.

Example:
*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.

Example:
*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.

Example:
*Limit pop consumption which is extremely high in phosphoric acid and only drink away from Calcium rich beverages like fortified soy milk

Learn more about Karla Heintz

Karla Heintz, BSc Nutrition, is a Calgary-based TV/Radio health and wellness personality, speaker, writer and consultant for athletes and families. She is the author of ‘Picky? Not Me, Mom! - A parents' guide on children's nutrition. www.nutritionwithk.com

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