Health Sachet No 291:

Ever wondered why it is said that you should get your vitamins from food and not from tablets? It is because many nutrients interact with one another.

Here is Harvard Medical School on Nutrients that work together—and that you should eat together. The following is a list of nutrients that work in pairs. It is just a sampler, and far from a complete list.

Vitamin D and Calcium: The body often needs vitamin D’s assistance to absorb calcium. Vitamin D also has many other benefits throughout the body.

Sodium and Potassium: Sodium is one essential nutrient that most people consume more than they need (mostly in the form of salt).

Excess sodium interferes with the natural ability of blood vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood pressure—and increasing the chances of having a stroke or heart attack.

But potassium encourages the kidneys to excrete sodium. Many studies have shown a connection between high potassium intake and lower, healthier blood pressure.

To increase potassium intake, eat more fruits and vegetables. To decrease sodium intake, cut back on salty snacks, and fast foods.

Vitamin B12 and folate: Vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9) form one of nutrition’s best couples.

B12 helps the body absorb folate, and the two work together to support cell division and replication, which allow the body to replace cells that die.

This process is important during times of growth in childhood, and throughout the body of adults as well. Cells that line the stomach and the cells of the hair follicle, for example, divide and replicate often.

Good food sources of vitamin B12 include meat, eggs, and milk. Natural sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, beans, and other legumes.

People who don’t eat meat and other animal-based products may have B12 deficiencies. And people who eat poorly or drink too much alcohol may have folate deficiencies.

B12 deficiencies can cause mild tingling sensations and memory loss. (In India, most doctors focus on just B12 injections. However, ideally, one should consider all 8 B-vitamins supplementation since their food sources are similar.)

Zinc and Copper: Copper and zinc don’t work together—they actually compete to be absorbed in the small intestine. If there’s a lot of zinc around, copper tends to lose out and a copper deficiency may develop.

Niacin and Tryptophan: Niacin is vitamin-B3. Niacin deficiency causes pellagra, a disease that causes a bad rash, diarrhea, and dementia. Tryptophan, an amino acid, is a source of niacin. So one way to avoid niacin shortfalls is to eat foods that contain a lot of tryptophan, including chicken.

  • Eat a variety of foods; no single food item is sufficient, however good it may be.
  • If you take nutritional supplements, make sure you take a full spectrum of them, unlike medications which are targeted single entities for a problem.