Vitamins and Gut Health: Digesting The Latest Science

New Science 04/09/2020

3min read

Talking Nutrition Editors

Ask the Expert: Vitamins and gut health

  • The gut microbiome plays a critical role in maintaining health and wellbeing. The microbial communities in the gut aid the host to acquire energy from non-digestible food and produce short chain fatty acids, which are important for human health.
  • It is widely recognized that pre- and probiotics can be very effective in maintaining a healthy microbiome, but the potential benefits of vitamins and lipids on the microbiome have not received the same level of attention. However, recent studies and data suggest that feeding the gut microbial flora with B-vitamins could have a positive effect in modulating the gut microbiome.
  • In our latest ask-the-expert interview, DSM’s Gut Health R&D Lead, Robert Steinert, and Gut Health Innovation Manager, Wilbert Sybesma, explain the role that vitamins can play in supporting a healthy gut microbiome, and what this means for R&D professionals developing gut health solutions beyond pre- and probiotics.

Digesting the latest science in gut health

We all know that vitamins are essential for optimal health and wellbeing, but important are they for a healthy gut?

Today, the benefits of pre- and probiotics are widely recognized, especially through their positive interaction with the gut microbiome. Less known, however, is the emerging science around the positive effects of vitamins on the gut microbiome. This is important because beneficially modulating the composition and activity of the gut microbiome has been linked to help reducing the risk of diabetes, obesity as well as bowel disease and discomfort. Moreover, the gut microbiome seems to play an important role in the so called ´gut-brain axis´, which to some extent defines an individual’s mood state we are.

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DSM’s gut health experts explain the role vitamins can play in supporting a healthy gut microbiome.

In our latest ask-the-expert interview, DSM’s Gut Health R&D Lead, Robert Steinert, and Gut Health Innovation Manager, Wilbert Sybesma, explain the role that vitamins can play in supporting a healthy gut microbiome, and what this means for R&D professionals developing gut health solutions beyond pre- and probiotics.  

What role do vitamins play in the gut microbiome?

The rationale behind “feeding” the microbiome with vitamins is quite straight forward explains Robert Steinert, “Usually the many microbes that live in our gut have the ability produce vitamins, such as the vitamin B group vitamins, vitamin K and others. In fact, you can think of these microbes act as little vitamin factories. They ensure the supply of vitamins for themselves and for their microbe friends with whom they often live in a symbiosis. On top of that, these good microbes also produce vitamins for us. In this way, we have a “free” supply of vitamins.”

However, in many situations, for instance when we are under stress, not eating well, or when we tend to get ill, the microbial vitamin production in our body is hampered, which can make us even more sick or feel less well. It is under such circumstances that it could be of help to have an nutritional supplement that is specifically designed to deliver vitamins to the colon.

Colon targeting vitamins and personalized nutrition

Colon targeted delivery systems (CTDS) offer a method to effectively deliver vitamins to the colon without absorption in the small intestine. Steinert has been involved in a number of recent studies to assess the effectiveness of colon-targeted vitamins and predicts a bright future for vitamins in the gut health scene, “While more research needs to be done to fully understand the role of colon-targeted delivery of vitamins, this approach could become an effective route for the risk reduction of microbiome associated diseases. It’s an exciting space for dietary supplement manufacturers looking to develop their gut health offering – particularly in personalized nutrition applications based on an individual’s health status and microbiome composition.”

Research suggests that the health of the microbes residing in our gut could have a powerful effect on a range of conditions. Our solutions address maintaining a healthy gut and microbiome, as well as food intolerances, such as gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance.

Find out how DSM can help you grow your gut health offering.

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