5 Food Combination Tips for Maximum Nutrient Absorption

If knowing how to nourish your body in the best way possible is important to you, then note this: One of the most important and effective (yet overlooked) ways to maximise nutrient absorption and reap the benefits of healthy foods, is to make sure that they are paired with their best match. 

Here are the 5 best food combinations for nutrient absorption, and simple food combination tips:

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, impacting women more so than men.

*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: Try a spinach salad topped with strawberries and oranges, sautéed greens and beans made with the juice of a fresh lemon, or bell peppers stuffed with quinoa and beans.

iron and vitamin c

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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 is essential to ensure the body has an adequate supply that can be readily available for use.

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, and pumpkin seeds.

Perfect Pairings: To combine vitamin K and healthy fats try sautéed kale in sunflower oil with slivered almonds, a spinach salad topped with almonds and sunflower seeds and an oil based vinaigrette, or beet greens sautéed in olive oil.

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 beta-carotene and the formation of vitamin A try a baked sweet potato or sweet potato fries made with sunflower oil, or a morning breakfast bowl paired with cantaloupe, chia and pumpkin seeds, or carrot sticks with all natural peanut butter.

beta carotene and fat

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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.

vitamin d and calcium

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 is nutritionally superior when cooked, so make sure you are cooking spinach in healthy oil such as olive or canola whenever possible to maximise your vitamin E absorption.

vitamin E and fat

*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.

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.

3 Discussions on
“5 Food Combination Tips for Maximum Nutrient Absorption”
  • 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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