In the past few years, vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, has proven to be one of the most powerful disease-fighting vitamins out there, with benefits ranging from boosting your immune system to reducing the risk of the incurable neurological condition, Multiple Sclerosis.
Now a new study, published in the British Medical Journal Open Gastroenterology, shows that there may be a link between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and vitamin D deficiency.
The power of “D”
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic and debilitating disorder, with symptoms like chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating and diarrhoea or constipation.
While little is known about what really causes the condition – apart from diet and stress being major culprits – the results of this latest study may shed more light on the underlying causes of IBS.
For this latest study, 51 IBS patients were enrolled. All participants provided a blood sample at the beginning of the trial to assess their vitamin D levels. An IBS symptom questionnaire was also used. The participants were then randomly assigned to receive a placebo, vitamin D supplement and probiotic placebo, or probiotic and vitamin D supplement.
The participants took their assigned supplements for 12 weeks, while filling in their questionnaire every second week. They also gave blood samples during their final week of the trial to measure their vitamin D levels.
The initial blood tests taken at the beginning of the trial showed that deficiency in the sunshine vitamin was high across the board in all participants, ranging from 70 to 82 per cent. At the end of the trial, the results showed that the IBS symptoms of the vitamin D and the probiotic group, improved from 25 per cent to 87.5 per cent. Those who received vitamin D alone improved from 22.2 per cent to 92.3 per cent.
The reason why people suffering with gastrointestinal conditions have low vitamin D levels is because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and these conditions affect your ability to absorb fat, which may cause a lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D.
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BMJ Open Gastro, doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2015-000052