Taking vitamins and supplements can benefit your health in a number of important ways. This is especially true if you’re not getting adequate nutrients from your diet.
As it turns out, you can enjoy even greater benefits from taking certain vitamins together. That’s because some vitamins and minerals work together synergistically. Let’s take a look at some especially beneficial pairings.
We’ll discuss which vitamins and supplements work even better when paired with vitamins D, C, E, A, K, and the B vitamins.
Vitamin D works synergistically with calcium, omega-3 fats, and magnesium.
Vitamin D and calcium are an important combo. Both are essential for the health of your bones. While some suggest that vitamin D on its own can support bone health, most studies examine its effect when paired with calcium. That’s because vitamin D has been shown to help us absorb calcium from the gut into the bloodstream before we deposit it into bones, where it is well known to have benefits.
Studies of the effects of pairing vitamin D and calcium have yielded promising results. Take, for example, the 1997 study that examined the effects of vitamin D and supplementation on adults over the age of 65 over a three-year period. The study found that the group that took vitamin D and calcium supplements experienced significantly improved bone health compared to the placebo group. A 2010 meta-analysis of existing studies of vitamin D and calcium supplementation supported the synergistic effect of vitamin D and calcium, noting that vitamin D on its own did not demonstrate clear skeletal benefits. Care/of’s Calcium supplement is formulated with calcium from Icelandic algae and includes vitamin D and vitamin K2 to support the duo’s synergistic support.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body produces naturally when UVB rays from the sun make contact with the skin. It’s also obtainable through certain foods and supplements. Vitamin D promotes heart health, bone health, and immune health. Omega-3s are fatty acids that promote brain, heart, joint, immune, and prenatal health. Omega-3s are largely obtainable through fish, but they’re also available in fish oil supplements. One study demonstrated that combining vitamin D and omega-3 supplements increased the bioavailability of both, meaning that both supplements were better absorbed by the body. Taking them with a fat-containing meal can also boost absorption.
Magnesium is a major mineral in the body that’s found in more than 300 enzyme systems. It also plays an important role when it comes to vitamin D. Magnesium is needed to activate vitamin D into its biologically active form. Studies have shown that a magnesium deficiency can reduce the amount of active vitamin D in the body. One study, in particular, found that magnesium deficiency can lead to oxidative stress and a decline in blood vessel health. Pairing vitamin D and magnesium can help reduce oxidative stress and ensure that enough vitamin D is properly utilized in the body.
Vitamin C works synergistically with iron, zinc, and vitamin E.
Vitamin C and iron are a great, synergistic supplement pairing. Vitamin C has been shown to help enhance the absorption of non-heme iron (iron from plant-based sources). For optimal absorption, you should consume a source of vitamin C with your meals, whether a food rich in vitamin C or a vitamin C supplement that is derived from food sources, like acerola fruit. As for your iron supplement, you should look for one in bisglycinate form for optimal absorption. That said, you should always consult a medical professional before taking an iron supplement, since excess iron can be toxic.
Vitamin C and zinc work well together. Both are essential nutrients for a well-functioning immune system. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant, while zinc has antioxidant-like properties. Evidence does not specifically explain if or how these nutrients might work together, but studies have found that when taken together, they support a healthy immune system. In particular, both of these nutrients play a role in the production of neutrophils, the immune system’s first defenders. They also support cell integrity particularly in bolstering the strength of the gut barrier lining.
Both vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants, compounds that help mitigate oxidative stress in the body. These vitamins are essential nutrients, meaning we can’t make them in our own bodies but must get them from food. On the other hand, the body can synthesize glutathione, a “master antioxidant,” in the liver. Vitamins C and E help to recharge glutathione, enabling it to continue working to reduce oxidative stress. Another example of this antioxidant synergy is that vitamin C can actually help the body to restore levels of vitamin E, in a process coined “vitamin E recycling”. Additionally, vitamins C and E together can support both male and female fertility, promoting healthy sperm and egg production and a healthy uterine lining.
Vitamin E works synergistically with omega-3 fats and selenium.
Vitamin E and omega-3s have also been shown to be a beneficial pairing. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and can help dilate blood vessels and thin the blood, while omega-3s boast a range of health benefits. One benefit that omega-3s provide is their management of cytokines in the body. Pairing omega-3s with vitamin E supplements can enhance the antioxidant properties of omega-3s. Another study also found that vitamin E and omega-3s can work synergistically in managing lipid levels in people struggling with weight management.
Selenium is an essential mineral known for its ability to support healthy cell function and immune responses. It is a major component in selenoproteins, which are antioxidant proteins in the body. Researchers are still learning about how selenoproteins function and impact human health. Similar to vitamin E, selenium supports immunity, antioxidant defenses, and even reproductive health. By combining these two antioxidant nutrients, you support the body’s overall cellular well-being and integrity.
Vitamin A plays an essential role in maintaining healthy vision, skin, lung function, and the immune system. It does these jobs by regulating gene expression and promoting cell differentiation into specialized cells. Iron, on the other hand, is a fundamental component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells for transport around the body. It also has numerous other functions in the body, such as the conversion of thyroid hormone into its active form.
Sufficient vitamin A is required to help mobilize iron from storage, especially to be incorporated into hemoglobin during new red blood cell production. This mobilization also requires adequate availability of copper. Without enough vitamin A, the body cannot properly utilize the iron it has in storage, leading to symptoms like fatigue. This is caused by impaired oxygen delivery to tissues. Ensuring sufficient intake of both vitamin A and iron is essential for maintaining overall health and vitality.
All B vitamins are important, but vitamins B6, B9 (folate), and B12 work synergistically to support the methylation cycle. The process is critical for the modification of DNA and cellular integrity. Methylation occurs when a methyl group is added to and changes the action of a molecule. The cycle relies on vitamins B6, folate, and B12 to enable proper enzyme function and amino acid conversion. The cycle also produces an intermediate molecule called homocysteine. Without adequate levels of these vitamins, homocysteine can build up which can have a negative impact on various body systems.
These B vitamins are essential for a healthy metabolism by helping to break down food into cellular energy. They are also needed for iron metabolism and red blood cell production.
Vitamin K works well when paired with vitamin D and calcium.
Vitamins K and D are both fat-soluble vitamins and play a critical role in calcium metabolism. Vitamin D helps to absorb enough calcium from our food, while vitamin K, especially as vitamin K2, helps appropriately distribute calcium to the bones. A 2020 meta-analysis found that a combination of vitamins D and K2 together was more effective at supporting healthy bone mineral density than either of the nutrients on their own. So if supplementing with vitamin D, be sure to also take vitamin K2. Since fat-soluble nutrients can be stored in the body, check with your doctor before starting these supplements.
Calcium is essential for bone health and nerve transmission. As previously discussed, vitamin K, especially as vitamin K2, is essential to guide calcium to the bones. A 2021 meta-analysis showed that vitamin K combined with calcium increased bone mineral density and carboxylation of osteocalcin (a process related to bone quality).
While many vitamins boost each other’s beneficial impact when taken together, there are certain vitamins that your doctor may advise taking at different times. Research on some of these combinations can show mixed results, but in general, iron and calcium supplements work against each other, so should be taken at least two hours apart. High amounts of vitamin E should not be taken with vitamin K. Your doctor may also advise that you take medications or supplements at specific times of the day, with food, or away from food. Always follow your medical provider’s advice.
Vitamin supplements can support your health in many ways. Certain vitamins, when paired together, work synergistically. Talk to a medical professional about adding any of the beneficial vitamin combinations mentioned above to your daily vitamin regimen.