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2.2 Nutrient Synergy: Moving away from the single nutrient approach.

Human metabolism is intricate, relying on a multitude of nutrients for essential functions, from immediate survival responses to long-term health maintenance. However, traditional nutrition research often emphasizes individual nutrients, commonly overlooking the fundamental synergies between them.


While single-nutrient studies have been valuable in understanding specific metabolic roles, they often miss the intricate interactions between nutrients. The nutrient synergy approach recognizes that various nutrients collaborate to support metabolic functions. For example, vitamin D and calcium synergistically maintain bone health, while omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E reduce inflammation and lower heart disease risk.


Macronutrients and micronutrients depend on each other for their designated physiological responses. Selenoproteins like glutathione peroxidase and deiodinase require selenium as a coenzyme, and alkaline phosphatase relies on magnesium and zinc. Moreover, the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex needs several B vitamins to function. In clinical practice, adopting a nutrient network approach proves more effective than focusing solely on individual nutrients.


While single-nutrient studies are foundational in research settings, in clinical practice, where optimizing overall health is paramount, the focus must extend beyond isolated nutrients. Nutrient synergy acknowledges the complex network of human metabolism, wherein multiple nutrients work together harmoniously. This approach enables clinicians to better address the multifaceted nature of nutrition-related health.


Examining the pattern of proteins and their cofactors offers a comprehensive perspective on nutrient synergy and reserves, surpassing the insight gained from measuring individual nutrient levels. Proteins, along with their cofactors, reflect the integrated functioning of multiple nutrients in the body. Under the nutrient triage hypothesis, during nutrient scarcity, the body prioritizes resources for short-term survival functions over long-term health maintenance. Proteins and cofactors involved in immediate survival functions may remain stable or increase, while those for long-term health functions may decrease. This allocation strategy aims to ensure immediate survival but may compromise long-term health.


Embracing nutrient synergy in clinical practice offers a more comprehensive perspective on nutrition and health. This approach guides individuals toward balanced diets that harness the power of nutrient interactions. Moving away from the traditional single-nutrient approach marks a crucial step toward unraveling the full potential of nutrition in enhancing human health and well-being.


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Tucker KL. Nutrient intake, nutritional status, and cognitive function with aging. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2016 Jan;1367(1):38-49. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.12914

Shao, A., Drewnowski, A., Willcox, D.C. et al. Optimal nutrition and the ever-changing dietary landscape: a conference report. Eur J Nutr 56 (Suppl 1), 1–21 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-017-1460-9

#Nutrient Synergy, #Nutrient Triage, #Nutrient Network, #Nutrition, # Wellness, # Functional Medicine, # Chronic diseases



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