Your digestive system plays a major role in your overall health as it brings nutrients to your body. You’re probably familiar with the term “gut health.” It describes the regulation of bacteria in your gut (esophagus, stomach, and intestine) that are responsible for digestion. A healthy gut means you can digest food without any discomfort, but a healthy gut isn’t as common as you may think.
In fact, an estimated 70 million people in the U.S. struggle with digestive diseases and even more have imbalanced bacteria.
Why does this matter? Because a healthy gut can help ward off bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as well as maintain general health and well-being. Without good digestive health, you will experience a host of uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, and more. Additionally, you may also get a lack of proper nutrition from the food you eat, which can negatively impact your health and wellbeing.
To show your gut a little love, we recommend taking these three essential vitamins for digestion.
Vitamin B-Complex For Digestive Health
Vitamin B-complex is a powerful group of B-vitamins that help maintain and regulate various processes in your body. In digestive health, it helps speed up the process by increasing the production of stomach acid.
To explicitly talk about the role of each B-vitamin in conducting digestive processes, we have the following contributions:
- Vitamin B-1 helps breakdown carbohydrates
- Vitamin B-2 helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and ketone bodies, besides enhancing the mucosal membrane in the digestive tract
- Vitamin B-3 helps the production of gastric juices to digest fats
- Vitamin B-5 is critical for the peristalsis of the digestion tract
- Vitamin B-7 actively participates in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
- Vitamin B-12 is the signal carrier between the brains and the digestion tract
B-vitamins are really easy to find as well in food such as meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dairy. However if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or have digestive diseases such as Crohn’s, we recommend getting B-complex from an IV treatment as you are more at risk for being deficient in certain B vitamins, such as B12. IVs completely bypass your digestive tract so you won’t have to worry about them upsetting your stomach.
Vitamin C For Digestive Health
Vitamin C isn’t just for shortening a cold. It helps produce collagen, which maintains your digestive health’s strength. Basically, your gut is made up of a lot of muscles and tissues. Those tissues require collagen to stay healthy.
The collagen produced by vitamin C holds the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract together allowing it to function properly. Collagen also helps combat cancer in the digestive tract.
A 2019 study published in Redox Biology found that vitamin C can be used to improve your gut barrier function, which helps your body absorb nutrients and protect you from certain toxins.
Along with improving your gut barrier, vitamin C has been known to help balance out the good and bad bacteria inside your gut. When compared to vitamins B and D, Vitamin C had the most significant impact on gut health and was proven to help increase microbial diversity, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy gut.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits including guavas, kiwi, papayas, and strawberries. Among vegetables, vitamin C is concentrated in healthy amounts in kale and broccoli. Peppers are also a rich source of vitamin C. Like with vitamin B-complex, you can also get vitamin C in IV treatments.
Vitamin D For Digestive Health
The final vitamin on our list is vitamin D. You probably know it best as the vitamin you get from the sun, but did you know that it plays a unique role in keeping your gut healthy?
Basically, your brain sends various nerve signals to your gut, which keeps things moving. These signals are transported by calcium. We hear you — isn’t this section about vitamin D? Well, the funny thing about calcium (when it’s eaten or taken orally) is that it needs vitamin D to move around your body! Think of it this way: The nerve signals are the cargo, the calcium is the truck, and the vitamin D is the driver. Without vitamin D, the calcium and the nerve signals go nowhere.
Vitamin D can be obtained from healthy sun exposure of 15-20 minutes daily. It is also available in certain foods including fortified cereals, saltwater fish, and dairy products.
Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency is very common. It’s estimated that about 41.6% of adults in the United States are deficient. This number goes up to 69.2% in Hispanic adults and 82.1% in African American adults. If you think you are deficient, talk with your doctor first to ensure you are getting the right amount in your system, as too much can lead to the overproduction of calcium, vomiting, nausea, and kidney problems.