Problems with the gut can be a sign of vitamin D deficiency, research suggests.
Gut problems can include cramping, pain in the stomach, bloating and diarrhea.
Over four-fifths of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D plays a part in keeping the gut and immune system healthy.
Deficiency in vitamin D has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease.
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 and it found that 82 percent had a vitamin D deficiency.
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 may affect up to 15 percent of people — although the exact cause is unknown, both stress and diet have an affect on 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.”
Vitamin D is found in oily fish, egg yolks, fortified cereals and some margarine spreads, but most people get sufficient from the action of sunlight on the skin.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology (Tazzyman et al., 2015).