Vitamins serve crucial functions in many bodily processes, and without them, many of those processes fail. Depending on the vitamin and a person's diet, sometimes these nutrients must be obtained through supplements because our bodies can’t produce them and the foods we eat don't provide sufficient amounts. However, many people do not realize that vitamins interact with each other. Some vitamin pairings provide a significant boost in the efficacy of both vitamins, while other pairings essentially make both substances useless. Additionally, medications and foods can manipulate the effectiveness of vitamins.
One of the most vital minerals for the human body is iron. It plays a role in creating energy from nutrients and contributes to the transmission of nerve impulses that control the body. Calcium and zinc both negatively affect the body’s absorption of iron. If a person takes vitamin A, they can improve their iron absorption. Another benefit of this pairing is higher levels of hemoglobin that improve red blood cell function. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal tract.
Unlike iron, calcium doesn’t pair well with other minerals or vitamins. Both magnesium and zinc have negative effects on the absorption of calcium. In contrast, vitamin D tends to increase the bioavailability of calcium. Bioavailability is the proportion of the mineral that can enter circulation. The higher a mineral or drug’s bioavailability, the greater an effect the substance will have. If there are large quantities of calcium in the body, much of it diffuses across the small intestine. Vitamin D improves the chance that bone tissue will absorb calcium, as intended, instead.
There are over 600 reactions in the human body that require some level of magnesium. These reactions include energy creation, muscle movements, protein creation, and DNA repair. Just as magnesium hurts calcium absorption, the opposite is also true. Calcium in the digestive tract prevents the body from properly absorbing magnesium. Vitamin B6, on the other hand, has many positive influences on magnesium. Primarily, it promotes absorption. It also allows the cells to retain more magnesium than they were previously capable of holding.
Other minerals such as calcium, iron, and copper compete for absorption sites with zinc in the small intestine. This means that if a person takes the minerals together, the body is less likely to absorb them. Zinc also has interesting interactions with vitamin B9, both folic acid and folate. Zinc and vitamin B9 fuse together and begin to form complexes that the body cannot absorb. The best vitamin pairing for proper absorption is zinc and vitamin B12.
Though many vitamins and minerals have negative interactions, vitamin A tends to work well regardless of pairing. Vitamin A is particularly prone to oxidation, which means that free radicals break the vitamin down, preventing the body from receiving its benefits. Both vitamin C and vitamin E help protect vitamin A from oxidation. Vitamin A also requires zinc for several purposes. Not only does zinc improve the body’s absorption of vitamin A, but it also helps with transportation and metabolization of the vitamin.
Many foods, such as yeast, beans, nuts, and meats, contain vitamin B1 in varying amounts. Vitamin B1 has positive effects on nerve inflammation, poor appetite, ulcerative colitis, and diarrhea. In some cases, it can even boost the body’s immune system. Unfortunately, it tends to pair poorly with other vitamins. Vitamin B6 slows the transformation process that allows vitamin B1 to reach its active form. A particularly poor vitamin pairing is vitamins B12 and B1. Vitamin B12 can dramatically enhance allergic reactions to vitamin B1, and contribute to its oxidation.
There are several types of vitamin B9, with the most simple being folate and folic acid. Folate is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B9, while folic acid is a synthetic form. Both forms react positively in pairings with vitamin C. This combination allows the tissues to conserve larger amounts of vitamin B9. However, folate exclusively has beneficial effects in combination with vitamin B12. Together, they work to support cell division and replication. Folate also requires vitamin B12 for absorption, storage, and metabolization.
Vision, reproduction, and general health of the blood, brain, and skin all depend on vitamin E. In addition, vitamin E is an antioxidant that can protect other substances from the degeneration effects of free radicals. There is a chance that vitamin E itself undergoes oxidation. If this occurs, vitamin C can restore oxidized vitamin E. Selenium is another powerful antioxidant. The vitamin pairing of vitamin E and selenium boosts the antioxidant effects of both substances.
In most instances, a person is safe to use vitamin supplements as much as their body requires. However, certain medication and supplement combinations are potentially dangerous. For example, vitamin A reacts poorly with some treatments for acne and psoriasis. These drugs can cause vitamin A to become toxic, leading to nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision. Another poor combination is vitamin E and chemotherapy. Some physicians believe that vitamin E and other antioxidants reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments.
Not all vitamin pairings require the consumption of two separate supplements. Because many vitamins exist naturally in foods, food and supplement combinations can be just as effective as vitamin pairings. Many people do not receive enough sunlight to provide them with a sufficient amount of vitamin D, but they can get it from foods such as eggs, dairy, and fish oils. Vitamin D pairs well with calcium and can be absorbed from foods such as cheese, yogurt, sardines, and lentils.
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