Essential Vitamins for Digestion

Essential Vitamins for Digestion

Since I have a digestive issue, more often than not I am thinking about every bite I take. I often think Will this make me sick?  Will this slow me down?  Will this hinder or help my ability to go to the bathroom?   

All exciting things to think about!  Eating should be a time when you can enjoy, not have anxiety.  Meditation can help ease the nerves and relax the body, but as some of my friends with IBS, IBD and other digestive issues, we are well aware that sometimes we are limited to controlling what happens after we eat or experience stress.

There are many things you can do to prevent from feeling sick or having an accident like following the Low FODMAP diet, meditating, and practicing mindful eating.  More importantly, you can help your body by supporting it with essential vitamins.

Your digestive system is one of the largest group of organs in your body.  These organs derive energy from the food you eat and allow your body to absorb essential nutrients and help eliminate waste products that you don’t need. Like they say “you are what you eat” so it’s important to help protect your digestive system with these vitamins:

Vitamin D for Digestion

If you live in an area of the world where you cannot get at least fifteen minutes of sunshine everyday, if you are obese or have digestive troubles, you might be deficient in vitamin D (people who are obese {have a BMI of 30 or greater} may have lower levels of vitamin D because fat cells extract vitamin D from the blood. Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD).

I have mentioned before in my blog that after a few blood tests my doctor determined I was deficient in vitamin D.   Some gastrointestinal diseases can affect the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from foods, so if you haven’t done so already, ask your doctor for a blood test.  I have read from a few doctors that vitamin D deficiency was almost always the case with their gastro patients.

So what does Vitamin D do for your digestion?

Having enough vitamin D in the body can support healthy digestion. A large network of nerves sends signals within your digestive tract to regulate your digestion. Remember growing up and knowing calcium was really important for your bones?  Well its also important along with vitamin D and digestion because the nerves in your digestive tract rely on calcium to transmit signals.  If there is a loss of calcium, a breakdown occurs when your nerves try to communicate.  Vitamin D regulates the levels of calcium in your system, giving your nerve cells the calcium they need to function.

Where Can You Get Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, but you can find it in cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, mackerel and eggs (also milk, yogurt, margarine and cheese for those who are not lactose intolerant).  The other way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D is by taking a daily supplement.

Vitamin B for digestion

All the B vitamins which are collectively referred to as vitamin B complex are essential for digestion.  These vitamins aid in the process of digestion and play different roles in helping the body digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Deficiencies in any of these vitamins may lead to digestive problems with rather unpleasant symptoms and can even affect the absorption of other nutrients. 

So What Does Vitamin B do for your digestion?

The role of B vitamins is mainly to get energy from the food you eat and send it into your cells.  B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they cannot be stored away in fat cells to use later; so they need to be a regular part of your diet!

Where Can You Get Vitamin B?

Vitamin B foods for the Low FODMAP diet can be found in whole grains (quinoa, rice), seafood, eggs, leafy green veggies and dairy products for those not intolerant to lactose. Through my holistic nutrition school and from reading several sources over the years, I have learned that most people do not get enough vitamin B in their diet.  So aside from eating the foods above, it would be wise to take a daily multivitamin with B supplements!

Vitamin C for Digestion

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids is the cleansing vitamin and helps stimulate immune functions.   Vitamin C is water soluble so it can’t be stored in our bodies.  That means that any excess present in our blood is released through our urine.

So what does Vitamin C do for your digestion?

Vitamin C is important for digestion as it helps the body to absorb iron and it also helps your body to make enough collagen. You have heard of collagen before in beauty and cosmetic commercials when brands describe how products “boost” collagen for better-looking skin. Collagen is also important for your digestive system as it helps to hold your tissues together within your fragile digestive tract. Your body needs to make new collagen molecules to keep your tissues strong.  New collagen production is essential to help heal tissue damage.

Where Can You Get Vitamin C?

If (like me) you love fruits and veggies, you are in luck as many do contain vitamin C. Strawberries and red peppers are low in FODMAPs and among the foods highest in natural vitamin C. Other low FODMAP sources include cantaloupe, grapefruit, honeydew, kiwi, oranges, and other citrus fruits.

If you are currently not taking any vitamins and you suffer from digestive problems like me, I suggest having blood tests administered to see where you may be deficient.  I also suggest working along with a Holistic Health Practitioner, as holistic medicine focuses on the whole person – to find balance in your body, mind, spirit, and emotions.  This type of care is the best for people with digestive and inflammatory issues.  

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