Gut problems are a simple sign of vitamin D deficiency.
This can include bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain and cramps.
Vitamin D helps keep the immune system and the gut healthy.
In fact, 82% of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are deficient in vitamin D, research finds.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Dr Bernard Corfe, who led the study, said:
“Our work has shown that most IBS sufferers in our trial had insufficient levels of vitamin D.
Furthermore there was an association between vitamin D status and the sufferer’s perceived quality of life, measured by the extent to which they reported impact on IBS on life.”
The study included 51 people with IBS, 82% of whom had insufficient vitamin D levels.
Around half the world’s general population is deficient in vitamin D.
From October to March many people in northern climes do not get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found in oily fish, egg yolks, fortified cereals and some margarine spreads.
Most people need around 10 micrograms per day, which can also be obtained from supplements.
Dr Corfe said:
“It was clear from our findings that many people with IBS should have their vitamin D levels tested, and the data suggests that they may benefit from supplementation with vitamin D.
As a result of this exploratory study, we’re now able to design and justify a larger and more definitive clinical trial.”
IBS affects around 10-15% of people around the world.
The cause is unknown, but both diet and stress affect the symptoms.
One IBS sufferer, researcher Vicky Grant, explained:
“I read about other IBS patients experiencing success with vitamin D, via the online patient community.
I wasn’t really expecting the vitamin D supplements to work as I had tried and failed with so many other treatments.
I’m not cured but I have found that supplementation has dramatically improved my IBS.”
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The study was published in the journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology (Tazzyman et al., 2015).