Vitamins and Minerals to Aid in Digestion

Vitamins and minerals are essential for every single function in your body, especially normal digestion. While almost all nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream through your small intestine, some of them help with the breakdown of carbohydrates, protein and fat along the way. You should get adequate amounts of each vitamin and mineral through your diet, but adding in a daily multivitamin might help ensure you ingest optimal levels of nutrients that aid in digestion. If you decide to take a multivitamin or other type of dietary supplement, make sure you let your doctor know.


Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin, but it is unique in that it is the only one in which limited quantities stay in your body, in the liver, for years. Other water-soluble vitamins are excreted in urine when your body doesn't need them. Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are two types of vitamin B-12 with the highest biochemical activity in the human body; both of these forms are paired with the mineral cobalt. These forms of vitamin B-12 aid in digestion by allowing L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase to convert L-methylmalonyl-CoA to succinyl-CoA, which is an essential step in protein and fat metabolism. This reaction allows your body to get energy from the protein and fat in the foods you eat. You need 2.4 mcg of B-12 daily, says the Office of Dietary Supplements. Eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy each day ensures you get adequate amounts of this digestion-boosting vitamin.

Vitamin B-6

You need vitamin B-6 for proper digestion because this powerful vitamin is essential for proper function of about 100 different enzymes that aid in metabolism. Like B-12, vitamin B-6 works by metabolizing proteins from the foods you eat into amino acids. Specifically, B-6 converts tryptophan, an amino acid, into niacin, a type of water-soluble B vitamin. Niacin helps convert food into energy to support your everyday functions. For optimal digestive health, women need 1.5 mg of B-6 daily, and men require 1.7 mg, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B-6 occurs naturally in whole potatoes with skin, bananas, beans, walnuts and avocados.


Potassium is a mineral that acts as an electrolyte in your body, allowing electricity to flow through freely. Electrolytes help smooth muscles contract, including those involved in digestion around your intestines, helping to push out waste. Additionally, potassium aids in the digestion of proteins by synthesizing amino acids, the smallest form of proteins used for building muscle tissue and supporting brain function. Potassium is also essential for carbohydrate metabolism, allowing your body to pull energy from the carbs you eat. For all of these functions to occur, you need to ingest 4,700 mg of potassium daily, Medline Plus advises. Meat, poultry, fish, beans, sweet potatoes, apricots, bananas and cantaloupe are all loaded with potassium.


Chromium is another mineral you need for optimal digestion. This mineral works by enhancing insulin, a hormone in your body. Insulin metabolizes glucose, which is the simplest form of carbohydrates and a primary energy source for all cells in your body. All of the carbs you ingest eventually break down into glucose and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Chromium helps insulin work by helping your cells determine when to absorb more glucose, such as during periods of fasting. Insulin also prevents your blood glucose from reaching unsafe levels. As healthy adults, women need 20 mcg of chromium daily, and men need 30 mcg, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. Filling your diet with broccoli, green beans, bananas, beef and turkey ensures you get optimal chromium levels in your diet.


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