6 Food Pairings that will Increase Nutrient Absorption

Are you familiar with the age-old advice to avoid combining palak and paneer in a meal? We've all heard various dos and don'ts when it comes to food combinations for better health and optimal nutrient absorption. One common recommendation is to consume fruits before a meal, rather than during or after. Regardless of your dietary preferences, your body's ability to absorb nutrients evolves throughout your life cycle.

Certain nutrient pairings can enhance absorption rates, boosting your body's ability to make the most of what you eat. So, while navigating the world of food combinations may seem daunting, it's worth exploring how pairing certain nutrients together can unlock their full potential in nourishing your body.

Significance of Proper Food Pairing 

Optimising the absorption of vital nutrients and maximising the effectiveness of antioxidants in your supplements can be achieved by pairing them strategically with certain foods. The combination of foods you consume plays a crucial role in enhancing nutrient absorption, ensuring you derive the maximum benefit from your supplements. Incorporating this approach into your dietary habits is essential for promoting overall health and wellness.

Essential food pairings for optimal nutrient absorption

1) Vitamin D and Calcium

Bone health is crucial for everyone, regardless of dietary choices, and calcium plays a key role in fortifying bones. When calcium-rich foods are consumed alongside sufficient vitamin D in the diet, the body's ability to absorb calcium is significantly enhanced.

Pairing calcium-rich sources such as soy milk, almond milk, or greek yoghurt with outdoor activities, like a walk in the sunlight, can further enhance absorption. Sunlight exposure provides a natural source of vitamin D, which complements the calcium intake, resulting in improved absorption. Pairing these nutrients strengthens bones, teeth, and nails.

Calcium absorption in the body is optimum when consumed with vitamin D, like combining food pairs such as:

  • Milk with cheese and egg. 
  • Broccoli or turnip greens with vitamin D-rich food items like tofu, mushroom, salmon, and fish.
  • Soy milk with scrambled eggs.
  • Salmon and yoghurt dressing.

2) Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K with fats or oils

Vitamin A, D, E & K are fat soluble vitamins, and the presence of fats can enhance the absorption of these vitamins in the body. 

It is highly advisable to consume these vitamins with unsaturated fats containing omega-3 and omega-6, as it helps lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). This combination of fat-soluble vitamins and healthy fat helps in improving cardiovascular health. 

A few combinations of food items to boost the absorption of these fat-soluble vitamins are:

  • Salmon and sweet potato mash
  • Spinach salad with olive oil dressing
  • Eggs
  • Drizzle olive oil onto baked tomatoes
  • Walnuts and seeds

3) Turmeric and Black Pepper

Turmeric is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial for arthritis and the health of kidneys. If you consume it with black pepper, it helps absorb these antioxidants. Black pepper makes the beneficial compounds in turmeric more bioavailable. Here are some tips for pairing these two spices:

  • Sprinkle black pepper and turmeric on roasted vegetables with olive oil.
  • Add black pepper to scrambled eggs or curry.
  • Add black pepper to your golden milkshake.

4) Vitamin C and Iron

It is best to consume iron-rich foods with vitamin C, especially plant-based foods, to absorb non-heme iron from them. 

Heme iron is primarily found in foods from an animal source, whereas plant-based foods like spinach contain non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is normally less absorbed than heme iron, so you should consume it with vitamin C, like a combination of spinach and lemon juice. 

Food combinations best for this category are:

  • Orange juice or lemon water with some dates
  • Squeeze of lemon or orange juice to a spinach salad
  • Tomato and spinach curry

5) Vitamin D and Magnesium

Magnesium repairs cells and helps in heart rate, and vitamin D plays a vital role in the intestinal absorption of magnesium. Also, the presence of magnesium is required for the skin to be able to make vitamin D

So, both vitamin D and magnesium are complementary to each other to enhance their absorption and usage of each other.

Magnesium-rich food items include:

  • Salmon fish
  • Nuts 
  • Tofu
  • Avocados
  • Whole grains
  • Dark chocolates 

Vitamin D-rich food items include: 

  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese
  • Fish 
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified Cereals

6) Animal Protein and Zinc

Zinc helps maintain the immune system. Zinc absorption in the human body is higher if consumed in the presence of protein from animal sources than from plants. Pair your zinc supplements with sources of animal protein like:

  • Oysters
  • Red meat 
  • Poultry 


Many factors contribute to optimal supplement absorption, but pairing them with the right food is a great place to start. Here are a few things to remember when pairing foods with supplements for better absorption in the body:

  1. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K require fat to be absorbed properly, so it is essential to include some healthy fats in your meal.
  2. Minerals like iron and calcium can interact with each other and reduce absorption if you take them at the right time or in the right amounts. 
  3. Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It will help ensure that your body is adequately hydrated and can absorb all the nutrients it needs.

Remember that timing is everything – taking your supplement with a meal or snack can help ensure that your body can use all the nutrients. Remember these tips next time you plan your healthy diet with nutritional food to get the most out of your supplements.

Now that you know what foods are good to pair with supplements, see what supplements are a good fit for your lifestyle at Origins Nutra.

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