Digestive health is very important, as improper digestion or absorption of essential nutrients can give rise to many diseases. Our body is a complex machine wherein every body organ is correlated to the other in some way or another. The malfunctioning of one organ affects the body’s overall health and can lead to further complications.
Digestive issues are frequently accompanied by symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. These problems are a sign of an unbalanced diet, although they can be fixed right away with over-the-counter remedies. It is widely acknowledged that vitamins play a crucial role in many bodily functions. However, few people are aware of their crucial functions in digestion. Here are 10 vitamins that help with digestion.
11 Vitamins That Help with Digestion
Here are the 10 vitamins that are vital for a healthy digestive system.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is frequently only thought of as a vitamin for bones. However, this essential vitamin plays a crucial role in normal body functioning.
The sunshine vitamin has also been linked to a decreased risk of some cancers and a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular problems.
Besides its role in calcium absorption and maintaining blood phosphorus levels, it also helps in the absorption of phosphate, magnesium, zinc, and iron. It is linked to a decreased risk of multiple sclerosis, as well as mental health issues like schizophrenia and depression.
This fat-soluble vitamin also plays a defining role when it comes to the gastrointestinal tract. It promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. It also protects the gut by regulating inflammation and influencing immune cell function.
Deficiency of the vitamin has been related to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
You can get vitamin D from food sources like eggs and fish and through regular sun exposure. However, many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
2. Vitamin C
An immune system booster and anti-oxidant, vitamin C is best known for its ability to treat colds. However, the vitamin also supports healthy gums and teeth, which are the primary parts of the digestive system and aid in the proper chewing of food.
Vitamin C also plays a major part in collagen production. Collagen helps to strengthen the tissues, including those of the gastrointestinal tract. Binding the tissues firmly has several advantages, including proper digestion.
Collagen is also known to play a major role in tumor progression and fighting cancer of the digestive tract.
3. Vitamin A
While vitamin A is known for its role in vision, bone health, and reproduction, it is also vital for your gut health and immune system.
Vitamin A deficiency is associated with xerostomia (dry mouth). In xerostomia, the salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva, which helps digestion.
Saliva softens the food and transforms it into bolus, which can then be transported to the stomach. Also, saliva has the enzyme amylase, which digests starch.
Saliva also protects your mouth from infections and keeps it clean. Vitamin A also keeps the digestive tract healthy by nourishing its mucosal lining. The mucosa secretes compounds that aid in digestion and also absorb essential nutrients.
4. Vitamin B
While all eight B vitamins are important for overall health, some are especially important when it comes to gut health. Foods like meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, and leafy vegetables contain B vitamins that help with digestion.
These potent vitamins play a variety of roles in vital bodily functions. For gastrointestinal health, vitamin B performs functions like facilitating the breakdown and absorption of nutrients like carbs, fats, and proteins, and deriving energy from the food you eat. It also aids in the production of red blood cells, the production and secretion of gastric juices and stomach gases, and more.
Besides regulating the appetite and producing energy, B vitamins are also important in the elimination of waste. However, they are water-soluble. This means that the vitamins are not stored in the body like the fat-soluble vitamins, so you need to consume them regularly in your diet or as a supplement.
5. Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is most recognized for its role in carbohydrate metabolism and in providing energy to the body. It helps prevent complications of the stomach, intestines, muscles, brain, nervous system, and heart.
Thiamine is also part of electrolyte regulation into and out of nerve and muscle cells. It plays a significant role in conducting nerve signaling and the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
Deficiency of the vitamin causes disorders of the digestive system, nerves, and heart and diseases like beriberi. A recent study in 2022 found thiamine to influence the gut microbial community and the consequent production of short-chain fatty acids.
6. Vitamin B2
Also known as riboflavin, vitamin B2 aids in digestion by breaking down carbs, fats, and proteins, converting nutrients into energy, and keeping the digestive tract lining healthy. It is also important for the production of red blood cells and growth.
Riboflavin acts as an antioxidant and helps in the detoxification of the liver and the prevention of the most common types of cancer, like colon and breast cancer. It also regulates gut protease activity and the use of heat-killed bacteria.
7. Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3, or niacin, is one of the most important B-complex vitamins that help in digestion. It is important for maintaining the health of the digestive tract and aids in breaking down carbs, alcohol, and fats.
Niacin is also important for the secretion of bile and the production of gastric juices, both of which are very important for digestion. A deficiency of the vitamin causes pellagra, which results in diarrhea and vomiting.
8. Vitamin B5
Also known as pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 plays a crucial role in the digestion of fats and converting them to energy. One of its major roles in digestion is the peristalsis of the digestive tract, which is vital for digestion.
9. Vitamin B6
Commonly known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is very important in the digestion of protein.
Deficiency of the vitamin is related to the impairment of gut microbiota and microbial and host metabolites in rats.
10. Vitamin B7
Biotin is a vital vitamin for digestion. It processes carbs, fatty acids, and protein and also produces healthy cholesterol. Biotin is also necessary for the conversion of folic acid to its active form, which is required for bed cell production. It helps the digestive system produce healthy cholesterol and eliminate waste.
11. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, has functional roles in regulating the nervous system. It helps the digestive system in the production of blood cells.
Also, while most B vitamins play some role or another in digestion, B12 is very important for the health of the gut. While a deficiency of the vitamin is frequently associated with anemia, it can also cause cramping, nausea, and diarrhea.
The vitamin helps in the absorption of iron, which, in turn, helps the gut bacteria grow. So cobalamin is very important for maintaining a healthy gut microflora.