Have you heard about the #WhatSupp campaign? It’s part of the New Hope Network’s Inside the Bottle supplement education program. I am sharing the types of supplements that have been the most beneficial in helping with my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Hashimoto’s disease.
This post has been kindly paid for by New Hope Network’s Inside the Bottle and its partners in high-quality nutrition: Natural Factors, NatureWise, NeoCell, Orgenetics, Sabinsa, SoftGel, Trust Transparency Consulting.
When you have gut health issues such as IBS, sometimes supplements can provide the extra help you need. Surely, diet (such as the low-FODMAP diet) and stress relief are key players to help you feel your best, however, many people with IBS are not aware of how they may be deficient.
No cure currently exists for IBS, but through diet, stress relief, and supplements, I have greatly reduced the severity of my symptoms as well as symptoms of my Hashimoto’s disease.
This shift in better health has come from years of reading books, meeting with naturopathic doctors and a really good endocrinologist, meeting other people with IBS and Hashimoto’s disease and from scouring the shelves in the vitamin department of my favorite natural foods stores such as Sprouts and Lazy Acres.
My doctors have cleared all the supplements I take as well as the dosages. I have an integrated team to help support my gut, mind, and body health and I never just take a supplement without consulting them.
Here are three different examples as to why it’s important to consult with your doctor and nutritionist first before taking supplements:
- Fat-soluble vitamins. Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins, and excessive amounts via way of supplements can actually accumulate at toxic levels and damage your organs.
- Too much vitamin C or zinc could cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The average person needs only 65 to 90 mg of vitamin C every day. The amount of iron you need each day depends on your age, your sex, and whether you consume a mostly plant-based diet. Pregnant women need 27 mg, while adult women 19-50 years of age need up to 18 mg.
- As you age, your needs will change when it comes to vitamins and minerals. For example, the right amount of calcium can help fend off osteoporosis in women. Women aged 19-50 need around 1,000 mg per day with a daily upper limit of 2,500 mg. However, past 50 years of age, the RDA is 1,200 mg per day with a daily upper limit of only 2,000 mg. And if you have hypercalcemia your doctor will tell you to avoid calcium. Also, in recent years, several studies have observed a link between the use of calcium supplements and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
So as you can see, supplement needs are different for everyone. Your age, gender, ethnicity, your diet, where you live (sunny or rainy), any medications you take as well as major health issues or diseases you may be susceptible to should all be considered by your doctor so she/he can suggest the appropriate supplemental regimen. Ask your doctor for a baseline blood test to see if you are missing or low on key nutrients. And, read this very helpful guide from the NewHope Network, Supplement Your Life.
Some of My Go-To Supplements
Vitamin D3 drops – For IBS and Hashimoto’s, I take D3 drops as liquid delivery is easier to take and it absorbs efficiently in the body. Studies show that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in patients with IBS. I personally noticed after taking vitamin D3 drops that my symptoms improved.
Vitamin B12 – In the beginning, Hashimoto’s brought on so much fatigue. I remember one day, in particular, going to the gym, walking on the treadmill only to catch myself hunched over with my eyes closed. I went home and crashed (hard) on the couch. I spoke with my endocrinologist and she suggested I take vitamin B12. I noticed a profound difference once I started using it on a daily basis. I still have days here and there where I feel like a zombie, but at least now it’s not days on end where I basically couldn’t do anything. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include diarrhea, nausea, poor appetite, fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, bleeding gums and mouth sores. I have had days where I have all of those symptoms or sometimes half of them. Hashimoto’s is still a work in progress, and once I am done breastfeeding my second child, I am considering going the natural route with the guidance of my naturopathic doctor.
You can take B12 as drops, pills or get a shot. The choice of delivery depends on the reason for the deficiency. Vegan and vegetarians are at risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Plant-based sources of B12 exist, however, studies have shown they are poorly absorbed and have little to no effect on our B12 blood levels. With respect to gut health, those with SIBO, giardia and low stomach acid may also benefit from taking B12.
You can learn more about vitamins for IBS, RDA requirements, precautions and more by reading my post: Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Vitamin D and Other Vitamins and Minerals
Probiotics – You may know we have many probiotic brands to choose, and sometimes finding the right brand can seem like an arduous task. If a brand says their product can do “xyz,” they need to back it up with scientific research. For IBS and Hashimoto’s I take a liquid, refrigerated probiotic that only contains three strains of live bacteria. The brand I like has scientific research to back up their effectiveness from everyday use (like promoting general health and wellbeing) to more serious conditions. These strains have been proven to work together synergistically and can survive the entire gastrointestinal tract. Since bacteria compete for space, taking a probiotic supplement with too many strains could render the probiotic null and void. If a manufacturer makes a product that has more than one strain, it is critical that they have tested those strains together. Be mindful of probiotics that are freeze-dried, as this type of processing makes the bacteria much more sensitive, leaving them more susceptible to dying during their passage through the harsh, acidic environment of our stomachs. Choose a liquid probiotic or probiotic capsules that feature a targeted release, enteric coating.
Psyllium Husk – I use psyllium husk to help with constipation and it can also be used to help with diarrhea. It can also help with hemorrhoids and IBD. I either mix it with 8 oz. of water (make sure to mix with enough water) or I stir it into yogurt or quinoa flakes and again follow up with water. Dr. Kevin Curran, founder of EthnoHerbalist goes into more detail about the benefits of psyllium husk. Please read his article here.
Collagen – I have learned that collagen may aid in the digestion process, repair and heal the intestinal lining. Also, one of the amino acids in collagen called glutamine, has been identified as the key amino acid for preventing inflammation of the gut wall and may aid in healing leaky gut syndrome. I now have collagen every day in my morning smoothie.
Other Supplements That Can Help with IBS
- Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they interact beneficially. If you’re following the low-FODMAP diet, many prebiotics are high-FODMAP so the goal is to finish the diet to find which FODMAP-containing prebiotics you can add back into your diet. You need prebiotics and probiotics for a healthy gut!
- Fiber – If you have IBS, fiber can be beneficial or it can work against you. Meet with your nutritionist to find the right type of fiber for your symptoms and a schedule to slowly add more fiber over a period of a few weeks
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Peppermint oil
- Peppermint enteric coated capsules
- Chinese herbs
- Digestive enzymes
- Tea (avoid those made without FODMAPs if you are sensitive)
What supplements do you take? How have they helped you? Please comment below!
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