Valerie Teo, food therapy consultant and founder of Good Food Heals
VITAMINS A, D, E, K + OMEGA 3
How they work together: These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed into your body if fats are present. To really reap their benefits, combine them with a healthy source of fat, like omega-3 fatty acids.
• Vitamin A improves your eyesight, encourages collagen production and builds your immunity.
Find it in: Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, Romaine lettuce, bok choy, papayas and tomatoes.
• Vitamin D helps build strong bones and balances blood sugar levels.
Find it in: Salmon, sardines, tuna, eggs, shitake mushrooms and salmon roe.
• Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps to prevent premature ageing. It also helps to balance good and bad cholesterol in your body.
Find it in: Sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, avocados, raw peanuts and broccoli.
• Vitamin K is needed for bone health and energy production. It can help improve insulin resistance in those with diabetes and also protects the cells lining your blood vessels.
Find it in: Spinach, parsley, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cabbages and bak choy.
• Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health as 60 to 70 per cent of your brain is made up of fat. It also helps to improve your mood and cognitive skills.
Find it in: Flaxseed, walnuts, avocados, salmon, sardines, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers and soya beans.
CHROMIUM + ZINC + VITAMIN B
How they work together: Chromium helps control blood sugar levels and appetite while zinc and Vitamin B affect your metabolism. When you combine the three, they play a part in improving how you eat and how your body breaks down food.
• Chromium regulates insulin levels and promotes blood sugar balance so you don’t experience post-meal energy slumps. If your appetite is excessive, your chromium levels could be low.
Find it in: Broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes, Romaine lettuce and black pepper.
• Zinc is important in regulating your metabolic rate.
Find it in: Spinach, crimini mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, scallops, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
• Vitamin B improves your body’s metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Find it in: Seafood, mushrooms, bananas, oats and pumpkin seeds.
MAGNESIUM + VITAMIN D + CALCIUM
How they work together: Magnesium and vitamin D work in tandem to improve your body’s absorption of calcium.
• Magnesium helps control blood sugar levels, supports the immune system, and aids in the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
Find it in: Spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans and sesame seeds.
• Vitamin D builds strong bones and balances blood sugar levels.
Find it in: Salmon, sardines, tuna, eggs, shiitake mushrooms and salmon roe.
• Calcium is vital for bone health, and for your muscles and nervous system to function properly. A lack of calcium can cause muscle cramps, and feelings of edginess and anxiety.
Find it in: Tofu, bak choy, yogurt and black sesame seeds (one cup of sesame seeds is equivalent to five cups of milk).
PROTEIN + VITAMIN B6 + ZINC
How they work together: Vitamin B6 and zinc are needed to maximise the absorption of protein, a macronutrient that is one of the hardest to digest, and takes the longest to do so.
• Protein aids in muscle growth, gives you shinier hair and even plumps up your skin.
Find it in: Soya beans, salmon, lentils, azuki red beans, quinoa and dairy products. It’s also found in chicken and beef, but Valerie advises that we eat meat in moderation as it contain unhealthy cholesterol.
• Vitamin B6 is good for metabolism and your nervous system. A lack of it may cause you to feel moody and down.
Find it in: Spinach, bell peppers, shitake mushrooms, tuna, cod fish and bananas.
• Zinc improves your metabolism. It also boosts a woman’s reproductive health – low levels of zinc may cause infertility and miscarriages. And a zinc deficiency can affect your periods – you may experience an irregular cycle, serious cramps, acne or menopausal symptoms.
Find it in: Spinach, cremini mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, scallops, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
VITAMIN C + IRON
How they work together: Vitamin C helps your body increase iron absorption by two to three times. It does this by changing iron into a non-oxidised state, in which it is much more readily absorbed than oxidised iron.
• Vitamin C builds and protects your immune system. It also helps produce more collagen, so your skin looks plumped up.
Find it in: Guavas, papayas, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, pineapples, lemons and oranges.
• Iron helps your body regulate oxygen by helping it to transport blood better. This in turn means that your body can produce more energy. As iron builds red blood cells, it also improves your menstrual health. You’ll feel more tired if you’re lacking in iron.
Find it in: Spinach, parsley, turmeric, bak choy, asparagus, Romaine lettuce, soya beans and lentils.
This article was originally published in Simply Her February 2015.