Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s AfterGlo

You, plus E and a C makes three

By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s

Go ahead and admit it: Your triple chocolate ice cream just tastes better with a gooey fudge brownie plopped on top.

I’m not gonna judge ya.

The truth is some things really are meant to be together. Like chocolate and peanut butter – always a win/win – or Lucy and Ethel, it’s impossible to imagine one without the other. Well, the same goes for vitamins and healthy foods. It’s true: Experts say people who eat healthy noshes shouldn’t need to overload on supplements as a result of a nutrient-rich diet.

But not so fast. Just like a veggie-packed salad, there’s a nice little topping – hello, dressing – to accompany that bit of advice. While your favorite noshes may be doing their job in the health department, there are a few supplements, like B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, that are crucial to a well-rounded diet.

Whether you’re getting your goods from food or supplements, some nutrients work even better when they’re together. Don’t make your vitamin C do all the work – here’s the scoop on how to make the most of your supplements.

Iron + citrus: A little bit of vitamin C helps your bod to better absorb iron, an essential mineral to keeping your blood cells pumping. Low iron can lead to anemia, so pair your spinach and kale with a glass of lemon-infused water or a few slices of grapefruit for maximum iron potential. One of my favorite ways to get this combo is popping a handful of spinach and a squeeze of lemon juice into my morning fruit smoothie.

Calcium + vitamin D: The Big Daddy D is quite the lover when it comes to his crush – calcium. The best part is that because Vitamin D helps you to better absorb calcium, you’ll often find the two paired together in your favorite nondairy beverages and whole grain cereals. Like I said, these two are inseparable, so go ahead and pour yourself a bowl. Try Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood Cereal topped with vanilla almond milk and fresh banana slices.

Vitamin C + green tea: Who would have thought it was vitamin C who knew all the right moves? Hook up your next cup of green tea with a squeeze of lemon and you’ll get more benefits from the tea’s antioxidant mojo.

Vitamin E + fat: Take your daily dose of E with a healthy food that contains fat in order for it to be properly absorbed. Try taking it with lunch when you munch on your avocado-topped salad or at snack time, after you’ve downed a banana with peanut butter. If you take selenium, then it’s best to take it with vitamin E, because the two are best absorbed when taken together.

As for when you should be taking your vitamins, it’s best to take them at a time of day that is most convenient for you. Experts do advise, however, supplements are not taken on an empty stomach. Some vitamins and minerals can cause nausea, indigestion or heartburn when taken without food. That means if supplements are a part of your morning routine, then it’s important to at least eat a light breakfast first. It’s also OK to spread out your supplement regimen throughout the day, perhaps at breakfast and lunch time.

Again, check with your doctor before adding any supplement to your daily routine. Some vitamins and minerals can poorly interact with prescription medications, so carefully read labels and talk to a professional about your concerns and questions.

Curious about what foods pack your favorite vitamins and minerals? Here are the details on a few:

Calcium: Dairy products are notorious for touting their high calcium content, but you’ll also find it in dark leafy greens, like kale and collard greens.

Vitamin E: This powerful antioxidant is important for immunity and protection against harmful free radicals. Find it in sunflower seeds, wheat germ, tomatoes, turnip greens and almonds.

Vitamin B12: Absolutely necessary for a healthy nervous system (and keeping anemia at bay), this vitamin is found naturally in salmon and tuna and is often added to breakfast cereals.

Vitamin A: Key for vision and immunity, you’ll find it in sweet potatoes, carrots spinach, fish, milk and eggs.

Vitamin C: Citrus is a popular choice for a dose of vitamin C, but red peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe and kiwi also contain the antioxidant.

Omega-3 fatty acids: There are two kinds of omega-3s. The first is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in nuts, seeds and green vegetables. The other category includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in fish like tuna and salmon. You need ’em both, so be sure to squeeze these healthy fats into your regular diet.

Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the upcoming author of a gluten-free healthy lifestyle book, set to be released in January 2014. She is the author of the popular gluten-free blog, and is currently training to become a certified health coach. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at


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