Pair Your Supplements

In a perfect world, our goal is to get all the nutrients we need from a balanced diet, however, with so many Americans utilizing take out and highly processed foods, deficiencies are on the rise. Vitamin and mineral supplements are an easy way to complement the diet and avoid nutrient deficiencies. There are a few rules of thumb when choosing which supplement to take and what foods to take them with. 


Vitamins can be broken into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, K, D, and E. These vitamins do not mix with water (like oil and water) and should be taken with a meal that contains fat for best absorption. Water soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C. These vitamins are soluble in water and if taken in excess will exit the body through the urine. Taking certain nutrients like magnesium, iron and vitamin C with food can help reduce side effects such as diarrhea or upset stomach. 


The nutrients we consume do not work alone, they can help one another be absorbed better, or they can compete for absorption and cancel each other out. Taking one vitamin or mineral in excess can potentially end up causing a deficiency in another nutrient due to competition in the body.


Let’s go through a few examples of vitamins and minerals that work best together! Our first pair is vitamin D and calcium. When taken together, these two nutrients help protect our bones. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium in the gut and is also necessary for regulation of calcium levels in the blood. Without vitamin D, a calcium deficiency is possible. 


Another dynamic duo is iron and vitamin C. Iron can be found in nature in two forms: heme and non-heme. Non-heme iron is found in plant sources and is not as available for absorption as heme iron which is found from animal sources. With the help of vitamin C, non-heme iron is able to be absorbed in the correct form in the body. 


Our third duo is magnesium and vitamin D. These two nutrients enhance each other’s absorption in the body. Magnesium is needed in many body processes that activate vitamin D and help to improve vitamin D levels in the body. 


Lastly, let’s discuss a duo that competes for absorption with one another. This duo is zinc and copper. These two minerals share the same pathway of entrance into the body and when one is taken in excess, the other may become deficient. If possible, it is best to take these nutrients at different times of the day to ensure both get absorbed after ingestion. 


As you can see vitamins and minerals interact in the body like a sports team, some nutrients are on the same team, working together, and some nutrients are on the opposing team, working against one another. It’s important to talk with your physician prior to taking high dose supplements.