Highway to Health: 7 Vitamins for Your Gut
Gut health has become quite the buzz term these days, and for good reason. Scientists have shown again and again that the health of your digestive tract can directly impact so many different elements in your body—from your mental and emotional wellbeing through to your ability to fight off major diseases. In fact, even Hippocrates said that health and disease start in the gut, and that was over 2000 years ago. Turns out, he was right.
The key to a healthy gut is to eat well. You need to ensure that you have a good balance within your digestive tract so that you can absorb food properly and nourish your body correctly. It’s all about putting the right nutrients in so that you can cope with any external factors that life throws at you. Let’s take a look at how 7 of the most common vitamins give your gut a boost.
1. Vitamin C
This vitamin isn’t just for fighting off colds and flu. Vitamin C can do a lot for your gut absorption rates. It can improve how your body absorbs iron, which is another vital aspect for gut health and your overall body wellbeing. Taking vitamin C and iron at the same time will improve the amount that you absorb of both. Vitamin C is also good for your mouth. You need to keep your intake of it up so that you can promote healthy teeth and gums.
There are lots of ways to get vitamin C into your body, not just by taking a supplement. It is prevalent in all citrus fruits, especially oranges and lemons. And it’s found in high quantities in strawberries. You can also get it with your daily vegetable intake by eating peppers and broccoli.
2. Vitamin B
There is an array of B vitamins, and each one is important on its own. B1, thiamine, helps to regulate your appetite and convert carbohydrates into sugar. B3, niacin, works in your digestive tract, breaking down fats, carbohydrates and alcohol. B3 also boosts the production of NAD, which plays a major role in the transformation of food into cellular energy. B6, pyridoxine, helps your body to digest protein. B12, cobalamin, helps you to produce blood cells and to use folic acids within your body. Biotin helps to stabilize your cholesterol levels.
It’s important to ensure that you are getting your B vitamins every day because our bodies aren’t able to store them for later use. This means you should look to include leafy greens like spinach regularly, as well as vegetables like beans. B vitamins are available in protein sources like fatty fish, red meat and dairy products too.
3. Vitamin D
We all know that you get vitamin D from time spent in the sun and that it’s very good for you. This vitamin plays a major role in how well your immune system functions, as well as your muscles and nerves throughout your body. Without proper levels of vitamin D, we cannot absorb calcium properly. Vitamin D has been shown to combat colon cancer, or at least reduce your risk of getting it. The vitamin can help you if you suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases and syndromes. It is often prescribed for those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s Disease.
Our biggest source of vitamin D is the sun’s UV rays. When they hit our skin, our bodies produce vitamin D. You can also include various sources in your diet to ensure that you have enough. Sources include fish, egg yolks, liver, fortified milk and cereal.
This is possibly one of the best metals that you can include in your diet. Zinc has an array of healing properties and is recommended for anyone who needs help with physical recovery—post-op, bad cuts, acne, and more. It can help you with recovery from colds and flu, too. In the gut, zinc helps you with the production of digestive enzymes, which are critical for ensuring that you get enough nutrients from the food you eat. It also helps to prevent leaky gut syndrome.
Zinc is prevalent in lean red meats, especially lamb and the less fatty cuts of beef. Plus, it’s in liver and oysters.
Next on the list of essentials for the gut is iron. An iron deficiency can seriously impact your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and get them to the cells all over your body. Iron is linked to gut bacteria and helps the right bacteria to grow. Vitamin B12 and iron often work hand in hand in the gut to ensure that red blood cells are produced.
You can get iron from so many natural sources, meaning you have no excuse not to get it into your diet. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are a great source, as well as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and even potatoes. Red meat is an excellent source for iron too.
When it comes to combating inflammation in your body, magnesium is a critical ingredient. It will work particularly well in the gut, keeping your good gut bacteria at optimal levels and ensuring your blood sugar levels don’t fluctuate too wildly. Proper levels of magnesium can help to alleviate stress, improve your sleep patterns and relax sore and tired muscles.
You can find magnesium in a wide range of different foods, including nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Avocados are rich in magnesium, as is dark chocolate and tofu. If you want to take a supplement, it’s best to go with a combination with citrate for better absorption.
Last but not least, selenium can help to protect the lining of your gut and works with magnesium to prevent inflammation. Without proper levels in your body, you may find that you struggle to cope with stressful situations and your body becomes inflamed easily. Deficiencies in selenium also have links to bowel diseases.
Your best source of selenium is seafood, especially tuna, and organ meats. Brazil nuts are another major source that is high in selenium. Dairy, cereals and grains are also excellent sources of selenium.
If you’re not feeling at your optimum, you need to do a gut check. There’s a good chance you need to up your vitamin intake to give your health a much-needed boost. Staying healthy from the inside out is easier when your gut is getting what it needs to function at its optimum.