The Peanut Butter and Jellies of Nutrients

July 6, 2009

2 Min Read
The Peanut Butter and Jellies of Nutrients

While they may not go hand holding down a sandy beach, some nutrients work better in pairs. Taken alone, they will give health benefits, but when added to another key vitamin or mineral, the profit can be bigger and better.

A Harvard Health Medical School article lists five of these nutrient pairs and offers the reason for their happy coupling.

1. Vitamin D and Calcium. In large amounts, calcium absorbs into the intestinal lining on its own, but in smaller amounts, it may have trouble diffusing into the body. With the help of vitamin D, however, it can be absorbed much easier.

2. Sodium and Potassium. Americans love their salt. According to the Harvard article, the average American consumes thousands more milligrams of sodium than we need each day. Excess sodium leads to blood vessel damage, which can lead to severe cardiovascular problems. Potassium encourages the kidneys to excrete sodium, which can reduce the amount of salt in the body. To get more potassium in the diet, the article recommends eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting back on cookies, salty foods and ready-made lunches and dinners.

3. Vitamin B12 and Folate. These two B vitamins work together to support cell division and replication, and metabolize homocysteine. Folate depends on B12 to be absorbed, stored and metabolized. Folate can be found in leafy green vegetables, beans and legumes, and vitamin B12 comes from meat, eggs and milk; however, many breads and cereals now come fortified with both vitamins.

4. Zinc and Copper. Zinc and copper are plentiful in the American diet and since they compete for absorption in the small intestine, having both in the systems helps reduce the chance of overdose of either mineral.

5. Niacin and Tryptophan. Making another B vitamin appearance, niacin is best known for its positive effects on cholesterol levels. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that supplies niacin through some rather complicated metabolism, according to the article. To avoid niacin deficiency, eat foods that contain a lot of tryptophan, like chicken or turkey.


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