My Top 5 Nutrients For IBS

I have just written about my top 5 herbs for IBS, so I thought I’d follow it up with my top 5 nutrients. These are a combination of vitamins and minerals that help those with IBS heal their gut, reduce inflammation and support their mental and overall health.


This amino acid is very important in gut healing. Glutamine helps to maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall and therefore aides in leaky gut. With less intestinal permeability means less microbes can get through the gut wall, decreasing infections. It is also fuel for hepatocytes, improving liver function.


Zinc is involved in many biochemical processes in the body including protein and DNA synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and antioxidant systems. It is therefore important for effective digestion. Wound healing and normal immune responses require zinc, so it is great for IBS sufferers and their overall health. Zinc deficiency has also been linked to depression. Zinc supplements can cause nausea on an empty stomach so please ensure you take it with food. Foods high in zinc include all meats, pumpkin seeds, eggs, and seafood.


Magnesium like zinc is one of those nutrients that is part of hundreds of processes in the body. The main ones that affect IBS are:

  • While calcium contracts muscles, magnesium relaxes them, so for those with cramps this is important to make sure your body has the resources to relax muscle. Magnesium can help reduce discomfort and pain caused by cramping.
  • Stress and anxiety use up a lot of magnesium. These have been identified as trigger in many people with IBS, so it is very important to maintain good levels of magnesium, so you don’t get depleted.
  • Magnesium is also used for sleep and relaxation so very important for everyday wellness.

You can take magnesium as a supplement but be careful with the form of magnesium that you take. Magnesium oxide is the most common form found in supplements but is used for bowel cleansing as it is not well absorbed. Look for magnesium citrate, chelate and malate.

Magnesium rich foods include almonds, avocado, and figs. These foods are all high FODMAP, so as IBS sufferers are often avoiding these foods, this can often lead to low magnesium. Some low FODMAP foods high in magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. B6 is absorbed in the small intestine, so problems with absorption can occur in those with IBS. B6 is very important for mental health as it is used to make serotonin, dopamine and GABA neurotransmitters, basically all of the happy hormones. As mental health is an important part of IBS treatment B6 is crucial.

Iron and B12

Many people with IBS end up with iron-deficient or B12-deficient anemia because of issues with absorption. Those with IBS-D are especially susceptible as this causes absorption to be low. With the high levels of inflammation often present with IBS, this can cause the digestive system to be unable to absorb both iron and B12.

I’m lumping them together here as they often go hand-in-hand and while not essential for treatment of IBS per se, they are important nutrients to keep an eye on, so you don’t have further health complications. Therefore, if you are feeling tired and fatigued all the time make sure you check your iron and B12 levels. Make sure you get appropriate testing and consult your medical professional before taking iron or B12 supplements.

As always, consult your health professional before taking any supplements.

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