Despite our best efforts, sometimes our diets don’t provide all the nutrients our bodies need. Factors like busy lifestyles, access to a variety of foods, and the quality of our food sources can lead to nutritional gaps.
Supplements help fill these gaps to ensure our bodies function optimally. Vitamins for gut health provide “nourishment and protection to the cells that line our gut,” according to Janelle Connell, RDN, a registered dietitian at Viome, the health tech company focused on personalized nutrition and gut microbiome health.
Plus, in certain life stages or conditions—like pregnancy, illness, or aging—our bodies’ nutritional demands can increase. And that makes vitamins even more critical.
5 Best Vitamins and Minerals for Gut Health, According to Experts
“What vitamins should I take for gut health?” is a great question. Here’s what you can implement in your diet to support your gut microbiome:
- Vitamin D. It supports immune function and has anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for gut health.
- Vitamin C. An antioxidant that aids in the repair of tissues and the synthesis of collagen, which is vital for maintaining the gut’s lining.
- B vitamins. A group of vitamins that aid in metabolism and help maintain the health of gut cells. Specific B vitamins like B6 and B12 are crucial for digestive health and energy levels.
- Magnesium. It’s important for muscle function, including the muscles of the digestive tract, and can help with constipation.
- Zinc. It helps with the integrity of the gut lining and supports a healthy immune response within the gut.
Additionally, while not vitamins per se, Janelle emphasizes that the following are also critical for gut health:
- Fiber. Far more than just a regulator, fiber serves as the primary feast for your gut microbes, enabling them to produce fortifying substances like butyrate. Yet, the type and quantity of fiber you consume should be tailored to your body’s needs.
- Polyphenols. These plant-derived powerhouses act as prebiotics, nurturing beneficial bacteria and providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Renowned for their anti-inflammatory action, they also enhance microbial diversity in the gut, contributing to overall gut health.
As you may know, vitamins can easily be purchased. It’s always important to remember to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
3 Best Vitamins for Gut Health and Bloating
Certain vitamins and minerals may help alleviate bloating and gas by supporting digestive health and addressing underlying issues that contribute to these symptoms:
- Vitamin D. Some people find that when they’re low in vitamin D and start to supplement it, their digestion improves.
- B Vitamins. Particularly B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin) are important for optimal digestion and can help reduce bloating, especially when the bloating is related to improper breakdown of foods.
- Magnesium. It relaxes muscles, which can benefit those whose bloating and gas result from spasms or tension in the intestinal tract.
While these vitamins can help improve gut health, they are not a cure-all for bloating and gas. As Janelle indicates, it’s “important to address the root cause and understand what is contributing to your gas and bloating.”
3 Vitamins for Gut Health for Women
While it’s a given that vitamins are crucial for everyone, for women specifically, they play key roles at different stages of life. They can help with bone health, menstrual health, fertility and pregnancy, energy levels, and immune support.
Consuming the best foods for gut health is the most ideal way to get these vitamins. However, sometimes supplements are necessary if you’re not getting enough from food.
Here are the ones Janelle suggests:
- Vitamin D. In addition to bone health, this vitamin plays an important role in gut health by managing inflammation of the gut and supporting healthy immune responses.
- Vitamin C. This antioxidant helps the body produce collagen, which is not only needed for maintaining the elasticity of our skin but is also used to create a strong gut barrier.
- B complex vitamin. These vitamins are good for fixing and growing healthy cells, including those in your gut. They also help your body make enzymes that digest food—Vitamin B6 is involved in breaking down proteins, and Vitamin B3 helps digest carbs.
To make sure you’re on the right track for a happy and healthy gut, consider these vitamins as part of your daily wellness routine.
Expert-Backed Answers to Common Questions About Vitamins for Gut Health
Vitamins and their role in your gut health can undoubtedly raise questions. With the help of Janelle’s expertise, here are answers to some common ones.
How do vitamins help improve gut health?
Vitamins are more than just a daily ritual; they are crucial allies in maintaining your digestive health. Here’s how they lend a helping hand:
- Nourishing gut cells. Vitamins act as a lifeline to the cells in your gut, supplying them with the nutrients they need to stay strong.
- Defending against damage. Many vitamins are antioxidants, shielding your gut cells from oxidative stress.
- Promoting beneficial bacteria. Vitamins can help restore gut health, shaping an environment that encourages good bacteria to flourish.
- Supporting microbial diversity. Some vitamins are essential for the growth of gut bacteria. Folate, for instance, is pivotal; without it, the diversity of your gut’s microbiome could be compromised, leading to a domino effect of digestive challenges.
By focusing on these vital roles, vitamins help maintain a gut that’s not just surviving but thriving.
What foods are good sources of vitamins for gut health?
To bolster your gut health with vitamins, Janelle highlights a range of probiotic-rich and nutrient-dense foods:
Foods with vitamin C shield your gut’s cells from harm, working as a guardian against oxidative stress. These include:
- Citrus fruits: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit
- Vegetables: Bell peppers
- Berries: Strawberries
Foods with vitamin D are known for their anti-inflammatory prowess and for fostering a balanced microbiome in your gut. These include:
- Fish: Salmon, halibut, and tuna
- Eggs: Specifically the yolks
- Mushrooms: Varieties like portabella, shiitake, and button
- Fortified options: Dairy products and soy milk
Foods with vitamin B9 (folate) play a critical role in renewing the cells that form the gut lining. So getting enough from your diet is key. These foods include:
- Greens: Spinach and arugula
- Legumes: Peanuts, beans, and lentils
Foods with vitamin E, like a shield, protect the gut lining from oxidative stress and soothe inflammation, making them an ally for a more welcoming gut environment. These include:
- Seeds and nuts: Sunflower seeds, almonds, and peanuts
- Vegetables: Pumpkin
- Fruit: Avocados
No matter if it’s a gut-healthy breakfast, refreshing lunch, hearty dinner, or in-between snacks, you’re nurturing your digestive system with every delicious bite.
Can vitamins help with IBS? And what about supplements?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be the bane of your existence. Additionally, research shows that those with the condition have lower levels of vitamin B2, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. So increasing your intake of these vitamins for gut health may help reduce the symptoms.
Additionally, Janelle explains that adding the following supplements to your lifestyle can also help:
- Probiotics. Several probiotic strains have been studied in people with IBS and have been shown to offer digestive benefits, including improving gut motility, reducing the average number of bowel movements per day, and improving stool consistency. For example, a well-studied strain of Lactobacillus called Lactobacillus plantarum 299v has been shown to provide relief from abdominal pain and bloating in people with IBS.
- Peppermint (in the oil version) helps relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and is often used to manage symptoms of IBS. Several clinical trials have shown that taking peppermint oil reduces abdominal pain, distention, flatulence, and bowel movements in people with IBS.
- Curcumin is the primary bioactive compound in turmeric and gives it its signature bright yellow color. It has anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to help manage IBS symptoms like abdominal pain and improve the quality of life for those with the condition.
- Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) root extract is a demulcent, which means it coats the digestive tract and helps to relieve irritation. When used in combination with other herbs, DGL has been shown to reduce abdominal pain in those with IBS.
It’s important to remember that while these vitamins and supplements can support the management of IBS symptoms, they are not cures. If you’re considering taking them, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your healthcare provider to ensure they are appropriate for your specific situation and to determine the correct dosage.
Make a Change, Create an Impact
Understanding the right vitamins for gut health is just the beginning.
If you’re set on deepening your grasp on nutrition and eager to share it with others, consider taking the next step with the Mindvalley Viome Certified Nutrition Coach program. Here, you’ll build expertise in selecting foods that enhance gut health, drawing on insights from Viome’s Naveen Jain and his team.
This program isn’t only about personal wellness; it’s about equipping you to guide others on their health journeys. The thing is, great change starts with you. And as you step into your greatness, you’ll inspire others to do the same.
Images generated on Midjourney.