Important Vitamins and Minerals for IBS Sufferers - dummies

Important Vitamins and Minerals for IBS Sufferers

By Carolyn Dean, L. Christine Wheeler

You need to be aware of the most beneficial nutrients for your gut. The most important nutrients after magnesium are vitamin D, zinc, calcium, and vitamin A. Of course, you could make a case for any of the other 44 vitamins and minerals, but the following list just aims to get you started on the basics.

  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D research is in its infancy, but so far it has shown that vitamin D affects most of the body’s tissues. Current research links vitamin D deficiency with 17 different types of cancer (including breast cancer) and many other illnesses like osteoporosis, heart disease and juvenile diabetes.

    According to Dr. Soram Khalsa, author of The Vitamin D Revolution (HayHouse) having adequate vitamin D intake (2,000 IU a day year round) provides you with overall health benefits that may translate into the lessening of your IBS symptoms.

    Vitamin D is very difficult to get in your diet; in order to get 2,000 IU a day, you would have to drink 20 glasses of milk or eat 10 cans of tuna, but as vitamin D3, it’s an easy-to-take supplement that may speed up the healing of damaged tissues and cells. Sun exposure does give you lots of vitamin D, but only at certain times of the day and certain times of the year.

  • Zinc: Researchers say that fast-healing humans have high levels of zinc in their tissues. Almost 100 body enzymes depend on zinc to make them work properly; that’s less than the 325 powered by magnesium, but it’s still pretty impressive. Many of these enzymes deal with tissue growth and repair and may just help those with leaky gut.

    Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and oysters are good sources of zinc. Your daily dose of zinc in tablet form is 10 to 15 milligrams and in liquid angstrom form is 20 milligrams per day.

  • Calcium: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, helping to create your bones and teeth. It’s also the most commonly used mineral supplement. Calcium is crucial for heart health because it makes muscles, including the heart muscle, contract. It neutralizes acidity in the body, activates enzymes, promotes cell division, and allows the transport of nutrients through cell membranes.

    Although it’s famously associated with dairy products, better sources for those with dairy triggers are whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Despite dairy concerns, yogurt is a good source of calcium and its beneficial probiotics may also slow down diarrhea.

    You may see calcium recommended as a treatment for IBS because of its tendency to cause constipation, but we must warn you of the dangers of taking too much calcium. Carolyn receives reports from doctors and clients who tell her they are developing complications (including gall stones, kidney stones, and magnesium deficiency) possibly caused by overuse and overprescription of over-the-counter calcium tablets.

    Excess calcium sticks around in the body, building up in tissues and throwing your magnesium levels out of balance.

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for healthy skin — both your outside skin and the inside skin of your lungs and gut. If you have vitamin A deficiency, symptoms of IBS-D can worsen because the mucus membranes of the gut are not as strong and healthy. At the same time, diarrhea can cause loss of vitamin A.

    Supplemental vitamin A usually comes from cod liver oil, but some food sources include colorful (dark green, yellow, orange, and red) vegetables and fruits, including spinach, pumpkins, peppers, squash, carrots, yellow peaches, apricots, papayas, and mangoes. It’s also found in high amounts in egg yolks, although some folks with IBS may be avoiding those.

    The usual recommended daily intake for vitamin A is 3,000 IU, but IBS sufferers should take at least 5,000 IU per day, which you can usually get in 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil.