Is Your Cup of Coffee Canceling Out Your Vitamins? Nutritionists Say Not to Mix These Combos
If you’re bit of a multitasker when it comes to your morning routine, consider this: Celebrity nutritionist Christine Avanti-Fischer takes her supplements about 40 minutes before consuming any caffeine—that way she knows her vitamins are getting absorbed.
“Consuming beverages with caffeine inhibits the absorption of water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, biotin and the seven B vitamins.”
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What’s more, celebrity nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella adds, fat-soluble vitamins (that’s vitamins A, D, E, and K) aren’t able to be absorbed without—you guessed it—fats. “That’s why many of the foods that contain these vitamins have a high fat content—think salmon and cod, which are high in vitamin D. Cooking with a high-quality olive or avocado oil is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most nutrition from foods with these vitamins.”
Even if you aren’t a wiz in the kitchen, Pasquella recommends these super easy tips when preparing food—all of which she says can make not only vitamins, but also minerals and other healthy components, more available to the body:
Crush + Chop
Crushing and chopping your onions and garlic helps to release an enzyme called alliinase, which may help to protect our bodies from disease. “Chopping up fruits and veggies can break down the plant cell walls and free up nutrients for absorption, and soaking your beans and grains before cooking them reduces the amount of phytic acid, which has been known to block the absorption of important vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc.”
Avoid “Road Trip” Foods
Pasquella says that introducing most foods to heat can degrade its nutrient content by 15-to-55 percent, depending on the food. “Some studies have shown that food trucked across the country has up to 70 percent nutrient loss in comparison to locally grown food by the time it makes it to your plate!"
Consider Digestive Concerns
This one may be a no-brainer, but Pasquella recommends that some people may benefit from not eating particular food combinations due to digestive concerns. “This is a belief that’s popular in Ayurveda but is still very controversial. For example, fruit, when eaten alone, may be digested easier than when combined with a meat or cheese. In addition, some people might see digestive benefits from avoiding protein and starches in the same meal.”
Know Your Info on Iron (and Calcium)
“Iron is a very important mineral in the body,” Pasquella explains. “It helps with the development and health of red blood cells, which carry oxygen all over the body. Some foods contain oxalates which are components that will lessen (or inhibit) the body’s own ability to absorb the iron contained in foods. Oxalates can be found in many dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, and beetroots as well as other foods like chocolate, nuts, some berries and teas. Oxalates can inhibit non-heme iron absorption by up to 60 percent. Another example is calcium. Calcium is found in dairy, sardines, tofu, broccoli, and almonds and has been known to inhibit our bodies’ ability to absorb iron.”
Does this mean that you should stop eating dark leafy greens for fear of oxalates, or stop taking your calcium supplement because you’re worried about getting enough iron? Pasquella says absolutely not. “The body is incredibly complex and the important point to focus on here is balance and variety. For example, to overcome oxalates, simply consume a source of vitamin C to help with the absorption of iron. Just a squeeze of fresh citrus fruit like lemon or grapefruit as a salad dressing can help you get more nutrition and enjoyment from your meal!”