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 2015
Have questions about a program?
Request information »

More Health Tips

Don't get burned by a container that isn't microwave-safe.

Conserve resources and save money by cooking with less water.

Planning your picnic in advance can gives you more time to enjoy your family and the great outdoors.

Eating more fermented foods like lassi, kimchi and miso is a delicious way to boost your immune system and introduce good bacteria and important vitamins into your diet.

Be a part of the heirloom revolution! Heirlooms taste better, are adapted to local growing conditions, and can improve the security of our food system.

The more we can elongate our muscle fibers, the more we can ensure maximum functionality when it comes to movement through our daily lives.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
5 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.