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5 Food Combination Tips for Maximum Nutrient Absorption

One of the most important and effective ways to maximise nutrient absorption is food combining.

Below are the 5 best food combinations for nutrient absorption. Learn and try these simple food combination tips but also check out this guide on factors affecting nutrient absorption to help ensure you get up to speed and address issues at the source.

1. Iron & Vitamin C

Perhaps one of the most important food combinations given that iron deficiency is the number one nutrient deficiency in the world.

*It is also important to remember that calcium can hinder the absorption of iron, so save your glass of milk, yogurt, or cheese for another meal.

Good sources of iron: It is well known that all forms of meat provide a substantial dose of iron, but non-meat sources can contribute to your iron intake as well! Try: legumes; beans such as soy, lima, black and kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils. Grains such as quinoa and vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, beet and turnip greens also contain adequate amounts of iron.

Good sources of vitamin C: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, and brussel sprouts.

Perfect Pairings: To help with nutrient absorption, try a spinach salad topped with strawberries, oranges and sautéed greens. Dress it with the juice of a fresh lemon. Alternatively, try  bell peppers stuffed with quinoa and beans.

nutrient absorption tips for iron and vitamin c

See also REVIEWED: Heal Your Gut, By Lee Holmes

2. Fat & Vitamin K

Vitamin K is what is known as a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that is needs fat (in the form of a dietary lipid) to be readily available, in order to be absorbed by the body. Vitamin K plays a role in bone formation and blood clotting, so it’s essential that the body has an adequate supply readily available.

Good sources of vitamin K: Green leafy vegetables are the best source for vitamin K, look for: kale, collard greens, spinach, beet and turnip greens. Additionally broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and green beans also provide a hefty dose of vitamin K.

Good sources of fat: Heart healthy fats include oils: think olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil, avocados, nuts such as: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews, and seeds like: sunflower, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Perfect Pairings: For maximum nutrient absorption combine vitamin K and healthy fats. Try sautéed kale in sunflower oil with slivered almonds, or a spinach salad topped with almonds and sunflower seeds and an oil based vinaigrette; or beet greens sautéed in olive oil.

nutrient absorption tips for fat and vitamin k

3. Beta-carotene & Fat

Beta-carotene is not only a powerful antioxidant but also the precursor to vitamin A, another fat soluble vitamin. Beta carotene is vital to the formation of vitamin A and is more commonly known as the carotenoid that produces the beautiful red, orange, and yellow pigments in our food.

Good sources of beta-carotene: Sweet potato, carrots, squash, rockmelon and capsicum.

Good sources of fat: Heart healthy fats include oils: think olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil, avocados, nuts such as: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews, and seeds like: sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds.

Perfect Pairings: To optimise nutrient absorption of beta-carotene and the formation of vitamin A, try a baked sweet potato or sweet potato fries made with sunflower oil. Alternatively enjoy a morning breakfast bowl paired with cantaloupe, chia and pumpkin seeds. Another solution is carrot sticks with all natural peanut butter.

maximise nutrient absorption of beta carotene and fat

4. Vitamin D & Calcium

One of the most important roles of vitamin D is to regulate calcium in the body, keeping our teeth and bones healthy. This is why maximum calcium absorption only occurs when combined with vitamin D.

Good sources of vitamin D: Animal products such as fish and fish oils, eggs, milk and yogurt provide the greatest source of vitamin D. For vegans and vegetarians, vitamin D can be difficult to be obtained through the diet and will likely require some type of fortification, such as fortified orange juice, or supplementation. Other non meat alternatives include portobello mushrooms, tofu and dairy alternatives such as almond milk and soy yogurt.

Good sources of Calcium: Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. As well as leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, bok choy, cabbage and broccoli.

Perfect Pairings: Aside from the traditional glass of milk or morning yogurt, also try a breakfast omelette made with wilted greens. Or for dinner try baked fish such as salmon or tuna, served over a bed of bok choy for a unique pairing of vitamin D and calcium. These type pairings will assist with nutrient absorption.

vitamin d and calcium - boost nutrient absorption with food pairing

5. Fat & Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that has the ever important job of protecting the body from oxidative stress and is considered to be the most important fat soluble antioxidant.

Good sources of vitamin E: Good news for vegans and vegetarians, vitamin E is only synthesised by plants, making plant oils the best source. Additionally, sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, spinach and Swiss chard provide excellent amounts of vitamin E.

Good sources of fat: Heart healthy fats include oils: think olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil, avocados, nuts such as: almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews, and seeds like: sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds.

Perfect Pairings: As good as raw spinach is, it’s nutritionally superior when cooked. Make sure you are cooking spinach in healthy oil such as olive or canola whenever possible to maximise your vitamin E nutrient absorption.

See also The Ultimate Guide To Protein (A Dietitian Explains)

food pairing vitamin E and fat for nutrient absorption

*If you notice on this list, many of the good vitamin E sources are also good fat sources! Mother Nature is very good at providing the body with the right mix of nutrients. Make sure you are getting a serving of almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds at least twice weekly to ensure you are getting an optimal vitamin E intake.

Finally, if you haven’t already, it may be worth trying to incorporate Diatomaceous Earth into your diet. Diatomaceous Earth works to improve digestion, waste removal and increase nutrient absorption. Some people also like Cell Food – check it out.

Now it’s your turn – have you been wondering ‘how to maximise nutrient absorption’, or ‘what are the right food combinations?’. I’d love to hear your feedback and answer any questions you may have in the comments below!

P.S. Do you know someone who might be lacking in nutrients, feeling a little tired, down or unwell? Help them out and share this read with them via one of the big buttons below.

Emily Cope Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist

With a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, Emily provides health and wellness nutrition counselling through her private practice website, Emily is passionate about helping individuals to make positive and sustainable lifestyle changes. She strives to empower and enable her clients to develop the healthy and happy life they have always dreamed of.

SHOWHIDE Comments (3)
  1. Food synergy pairings are new to me but I’m feeling better after trying a few already. Do you have any overall food combining rules or can you recommend a good chart for foods that shouldn’t be eaten together, and foods that should be eaten together? Thanks Emily

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