Dynamic Duo Nutrient Pairings For Optimal Health

By Isadora Baum

Batman & Robin. Thelma & Louise. Even movies and popcorn. Some things are better together – as dynamic duos. And, it's the same for nutrients.

Certain nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and protein, are great on their own, but even better when paired with another nutrient to promote nutrient synergy, which can provide even more benefits to health and wellness.

Nutrient dense meal
credit: Unsplash

Here are some reasons why these duos are in fact "dynamic," as well as a few examples of foods that can provide these amazing combinations, thanks to Abby Sauer a registered dietician at Abbott_._

Calcium and Vitamin D

You might notice these are often combined on supplements, as they work together to maximize absorption and better your health. "The classic dynamic duo for bone health is calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is an important mineral that we need in our bodies to maintain strong bones. And vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is needed to help the body absorb calcium from foods," explains Sauer.

While you can supplement, as advised by a doctor, you'll want to get them from whole foods, mostly. "Get this combo from a glass of milk, or try pairing kale or broccoli with a fatty fish like salmon or tuna for your next dinner," she says.

Protein and Vitamin D

Protein is the building block of our muscles, but did you know that vitamin D is also important for muscle health? That's because it helps with muscle function and strength, explains Sauer. "So pairing these two nutrients together can provide the muscle health benefits your body needs," she states.

For an adventurous weekend brunch, try whipping up a frittata with eggs, cheese, mushrooms, kale, and even some salmon for extra vitamin D. "Or if you running out the door in a rush, try a glass of milk or a drink like Ensure," recommends Sauer.

Vitamin C and Iron

"Iron is an important mineral that we need for proper growth and development, but unfortunately our bodies can't always absorb all the iron from certain foods, especially from plant-based foods," explains Sauer. That's where some vitamin C comes in.

"However, if you pair vitamin C, an essential vitamin and antioxidant, with iron, you can help improve the absorption of iron in the body," she says. Try pairing iron and vitamin C at lunch by adding pieces of orange or grapefruit to your spinach salad or as a glaze on piece of chicken or fish.

Vitamin B's Together

"Vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate are all B vitamins that are beneficial to our health," says Sauer, "as these vitamins each play a distinct role in our bodies ability to make things we need for proper functions, such as DNA and enzymes. "

"Emerging research is also looking into the role of these B vitamins in the prevention of heart disease and cognitive decline with aging," she adds. The good news? Most of the vitamins are easily found in foods; yet, it's the matter of combining a few types to really get the health perks you need. "At dinner, try a pasta dish with whole grain pasta, chicken, asparagus, and spinach," she says.

Side note: if you're vegan or vegetarian, you might be missing out on vitamin B12, which is only found in animal protein. In that case, you might want to supplement, though you should speak to your doctor first.