4 potent combinations of nutrients

Check out the adjustments that can bring better health to your plate

by Chris Bertelli, iG Sao Paulo

Alone, they are good for avoiding colds and to improve the intestinal or the immune systems. But together, they can enhance health. The interaction between the nutrients in food and their maximum absorption have a name: bioavailable.

"Bioavailability refers to the amount of nutrients absorbed and utilized by the body. This is because not all nutrients consumed are actually utilized, and there may be interactions between substances or between foods which increase or decrease this use," explains consultant, RG Nutri.

Vitamins and minerals are not always well absorbed by the body and can easily be "stolen." This is the case when mixing calcium and iron.

"Foods rich in these nutrients do not go together. No point in making a child eat dark greens for lunch, for example, and then give yogurt for dessert. Or give milk in the afternoon snack," says nutritionist, Alessandra Luglio, of Hero Nutritionals.

"Iron is the nutrient most problematic," she adds.

On the other hand, certain combinations may enhance the absorption of these substances.

"The red meat with orange juice pair is a great example," says Alessandra. The vitamin C present in oranges helps assimilation by the body of the iron present in red meat.

Knowing the best combination between two or more ingredients may be essential to ensure the health of children and the elderly - who have special vitamin needs.

"Seniors may experience loss of appetite and, therefore, need to have guaranteed doses of these substances . Children that have difficulty in feeding, causing a lack of minerals, can face a serious health risk," explains the nutritionist.

People with health problems or who have anemia, for example, must also have twice the care. See the combinations that can bring better health to the body.

One enhances the absorption of the other:

- Vitamin C (orange, lemon, cherry, tomato) and iron (meat, green vegetables, beets and beans)
- Fructose (sugar contained in fruits) and iron
- Lactose (sugar in milk) and calcium (milk, lean meats and cereals)
- Vitamins A and D (chestnuts, carrots, pumpkin, mango, spinach) with fat contained in foods

Avoid mixing:

- Foods rich in zinc (meat, yogurt, bananas, broccoli, seafood), iron or calcium should not be consumed with phosphate sources (milk - conventional or soy - and its derivatives, eggs, wheat, Brazil nuts and peanuts)
- Soy with foods rich in copper, iron or zinc (seafood, fish such as sardines, liver, chicken meat)
- Tannins (substances found in teas, especially the mate and black) and tonic water with food consisting of protein, iron, zinc and copper (seafood, liver, nuts, plums)
- Egg with iron-rich foods such as dark leafy vegetables
- Foods that contain oxalates (like chocolate) should not be consumed with those containing iron, zinc or copper.

Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova

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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey