Nutrient Enemies & Interactions
Nutrient InteractionsREAD MORE
Predominantly, it’s when we upset the biological applecart with medications or the excess use of foreign substances that interactions become a problem. Of course, we’re usually prescribed medications to counteract biological dysfunctions and chronic conditions, so it’s not always a simple matter to avoid the substances that present nutritional obstacles. Under the direction of a physician or nutritionist, we can usually counter the effects of an unwanted interaction.
Medicinal Interactions: For Better, For Worse
Medication nearly always entails a measured risk, and that’s why we take prescribed meds under the direction of a qualified physician. Here is a sampling of drug categories that can interfere with the absorption or retention of vitamins and minerals, warranting counteraction.
|Drug Type||Vitamin/Mineral Affected||Effect||Counteraction (with doctor’s advice)|
|Corticosteroids||calcium, phosphorus||Potential bone loss, stunted growth||Increase calcium and Vitamin D intake|
|Acid-blockers||B12||Decreased absorption||Supplement B12|
|Laxatives||fat-soluble vitamins, various minerals||Decreased absorption||Supplementation as directed by doctor|
|Diuretics||potassium, magnesium, calcium||Increased loss through urine||Supplement minerals|
Fortification: Too Much of a Good Thing?READ MORE
To date, there’s little evidence that the energy bars, smoothies, and other “functional foods” overstuffed with vitamins and minerals cause any harm. Excesses of water-soluble vitamins represent little if any threat since unneeded quantities are discharged in the urine. But exceeding daily allowances of other vitamins and minerals by dozens or even hundreds of times the recommended amount may at the very least promote unwanted interactions, and there is anecdotal evidence of toxicity.
Scientists know, for example, that excess folic acid can mask a B12 deficiency, which is common in older patients and a risk factor for dementia. In 2006, the Mayo Clinic reported on a man who suffered chronic liver disease and other symptoms — sore muscles, hair loss, skin rashes — as a result of taking excess Vitamin A. LESS
Nutrients in Tandem
Interaction is a blade that cuts both ways. While excess of one vitamin or mineral can inhibit the body’s use of another, the inverse is true as well: Deficiency of some nutrients can cause critically low levels of other vitamins or minerals. Many nutrients depend on one another for absorption, transport, metabolism, and other functions at the cellular level. READ MORE
While the excess of one nutrient has been shown to block or blunt the effects of another, combinations of nutrient-rich foods can also yield surprising benefits. A study published in the January, 2007, issue of Cancer Research provided evidence that the effect of nutrients in broccoli and tomatoes are actually multiplied when the two sources are consumed simultaneously. Researchers were excited to observe a reduction in the size of malignant prostate tumors in rats whose diets included the combination. To recreate the additive effect on a human scale, the researchers concluded, men should consume daily 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato (or 1 cup of tomato sauce, or ½ cup of tomato paste).
Spinach: True Grit
Spinach is, in a manner of speaking, something of a troubled vegetable. It contains both oxalic acid and iron — and though the body needs both nutrients, the oxalic acid blocks the iron from being absorbed. It’s been hypothesized that the iron that does get absorbed from eating spinach probably comes from the tiny particles of sand clinging to the leaf rather than from the spinach itself. LESS