Supplement Considerations for People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Stomach with Circle Graphic

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) presents a range of digestive issues that cause general discomfort. Bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, and constipation are all signs that your digestive system isn’t functioning well. These issues make it hard for your body to get the nutrients it needs to support its many systems. Factors that can cause nutrient deficiencies include;

  • avoiding certain foods that contain essential nutrients,
  • digestive issues that prevent adequate nutrient absorption, and
  • taking medications that may cause deficiencies.

If you can’t absorb an adequate amount of nutrients from your diet, supplements may be in order. But those with digestive issues and sensitivities can’t pick just any product on the shelves. Below are some considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when picking your supplements.

Things to Consider When Choosing Supplements

Mineral supplements can be a cause of intestinal inflammation unless they are in a form that’s easy for your body to convert. Properly chelated (molecularly structured) minerals are more effectively absorbed and are less likely to cause irritation in the digestive tract. What makes a mineral properly chelated? Simply stated, a mineral is chelated when it is combined with an amino acid such as glycine. This makes the mineral easier for your body to absorb. Magnesium is a good example of a mineral that benefits from chelation, as it otherwise might cause a laxative effect. Mineral products will be labeled as “amino acid chelate” or something similar.  Are there minerals where using a chelated version is more important? How do you know something is chelated? Is it on the bottle?

Some “inactive ingredients” may cause digestive difficulties. Look for supplements that contain as few additives as possible to reduce your risk.

Certain supplement forms may be beneficial for delivering nutrients and herbs in a way that may improve digestive symptoms. Capsules or tablets with an enteric coating do not digest until they get to the small intestine. This helps avoid stomach issues that occur when digestion begins there. Choosing enteric-coated fish oil instead of a non-coated softgel, for example, provides the systemic benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids while also providing a local digestive anti-inflammatory effect. Enteric-coated peppermint oil provides similar benefits in the digestive tract.

If you have questions, our wellness specialists are always available to explain your options.

About the Author

Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness Staff

Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness Staff

Our staff specialties range from pharmaceuticals to nutritional health and wellness, to sports nutrition. We are here to share that knowledge. If we don't know immediately, we'll find out. Stop into the pharmacy or nutritional health and wellness department to ask questions relating to your specific needs, or send us an email.


This site provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in the site and any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker.

Where health claims of dietary supplements are referenced, the statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.