Monday, February 7, 2011

Nutrient Combinations for the Best Absorption

Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Some things in life just work better together. While our bodies take in nutrients from foods even when they're eaten alone, some nutrients' absorption is increased when they are eaten at the same time. Fortunately, there are many foods that naturally contain these combinations. Here are some examples of great nutrient pairs:

Iron and vitamin C: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of the iron found in plant foods. Particularly for vegetarians or individuals who eat small amounts of animal foods, pairing an excellent vitamin C source with an excellent iron source is the way to go. So to gain the iron from a spinach salad, sprinkle it with lemon juice, or add orange sections, strawberry slices or tomato wedges. When eating lentils, add vitamin C-rich red bell pepper slices.

Vitamin D and calcium: Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, is needed for calcium to be absorbed. In the cloudy Pacific Northwest, our bodies are unable to make vitamin D for most of the year. There are few food sources of vitamin D, so many people require a supplement to maintain healthy levels. Examples of foods that do contain this nutrient pair include fortified milk and canned salmon.

Vitamin A, D, E, K and fat: All of these vitamins are fat-soluble, so the presence of dietary fat helps with their absorption. Just a small amount of fat is needed, such as a drizzle of olive oil. Avocados and nuts contain their own source of fat along with their own fat-soluble vitamins.

Consider these combinations the next time you're planning a meal, so you can get the best nutrient bang for your buck.

— Kristi Lyle, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chairwoman and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

FALL 2016
Have questions about a program?
Request information »

More Health Tips

Learn how to get your fill of phytochemicals from various colorful fruits and veggies.

Buying organic is just one way you can make thoughtful food decisions that support and nourish your body and health.

Fruits and veggies are tremendous grilled, and worth making room for, in the name of both flavor and health.

Individualized care can help find the right treatment for atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema.

If you're like most Americans, you're throwing away as much as $500 a year in wasted food. Here are three ways to help you give up that wasteful habit.

Mood and fatigue are easy signs of possible dehydration, but being aware of your fluid intake before you even get to that point can help you avoid other side effects of dehydration.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This is a human test to prevent automated spam submissions. Enter the four-letter 'word' in the image.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.