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How Can I Get the Best Nutrients Out of the Food I Eat?

Eating a healthy diet is essential, but it’s equally important to ensure that your body absorbs these nutrients efficiently. Optimizing nutrient absorption can lead to improved health, more energy, and an overall better quality of life. Here are several strategies to help you get the most nutritional bang for your buck from the foods you consume.

1. Choose Whole, Unprocessed Foods

Whole foods are packed with essential nutrients in a natural balance. Unlike processed foods, which often lose nutrients during manufacturing, whole foods provide a complex array of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. For example, choosing a whole orange over bottled orange juice not only provides fibre it also reduces exposure to added sugars and preservatives, which can interfere with nutrient absorption.

2. Combine Nutrient-Rich Foods for Synergy

Some nutrients can boost the absorption of others when consumed together. For instance:

  • Iron and Vitamin C: Animal-based iron (heme iron) is more easily absorbed than plant-based iron (non-heme iron). However, consuming vitamin C with non-heme iron sources, like spinach or lentils, can enhance absorption. Try a bell pepper and spinach salad for a combo that packs a punch.
  • Fat-Soluble Vitamins and Fats: Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they require fat to be absorbed. Include healthy fats like olive oil with your salad to enhance the absorption of these vitamins.

3. Use Proper Cooking Methods

How you prepare your food can affect nutrient retention:

  • Steaming vs. Boiling: Steaming vegetables preserves more nutrients compared to boiling where water-soluble vitamins like B and C can leach into the water.
  • Raw vs. Cooked: Some foods are more nutritious raw, while others benefit from cooking which can break down tough cellular walls, making nutrients more accessible. For example, cooking tomatoes boosts their lycopene content, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer.

4. Manage Your Meal Timings

Spacing out meals and snacks can help maximize nutrient absorption. Constant snacking can lead to sluggish digestion and may interfere with the uptake of nutrients. Allowing your digestive system to process one meal before starting another helps ensure that you’re absorbing as much as possible from each meal.

5. Mind Your Gut Health

A healthy gut is crucial for optimal nutrient absorption. Probiotics (found in yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut) and prebiotics (found in foods like bananas, onions, and garlic) support a healthy gut flora, which plays a vital role in digesting food and absorbing nutrients.

6. Stay Hydrated

Adequate water intake is essential for transporting nutrients to cells, and dehydration can hinder this process. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily, but remember that fruits and vegetables also contribute to your hydration needs.

7. Consider Supplementation Thoughtfully

While it’s best to get nutrients from your diet, some circumstances might require supplements, such as vitamin D in low-sunlight areas or iron for those with anemia. Consult your healthcare provider to determine what, if any, supplements might help you meet your nutritional needs without compromising nutrient absorption from food.


Maximizing nutrient absorption isn’t just about what you eat; it’s also about how you prepare, combine, and consume your food. By making mindful choices about your diet and lifestyle, you can enhance the way your body processes and utilizes the nutrients from your meals. This holistic approach not only improves your physical health but also contributes to a more vibrant and energetic life.

Sneak Peak – check back next week for our blog post on the Gut Microbiome