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Do You Have IBS? You May Be Vitamin D Deficient

Published in the BMJ Open Gastroenterology December 2015, researchers from the University of Sheffield have discovered a significant association between a patient’s vitamin D levels and the severity of their irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, particularly the extent to which IBS affects their quality of life.

utiIBS is a chronic and debilitating functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract which affects around 10-15 % of the western population.

Little is known about why and how the condition develops, although it is known that diet and stress can make symptoms worse.

The study, which researchers state is the first of its kind, found that out of 51 IBS patients tested, 82% exhibited insufficient vitamin D levels.

The study defined vitamin D deficiency as <20 ng/mL (50 nmol/l).

Three groups were established dosing with vitamin D (3000IU), placebo or a combination of vitamin D and the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, CUL60 (NCIMB 30157), CUL21 (NCIMB 30156), Bifidobacterium bifidum CUL20 (NCIMB 30153) and Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis CUL34 (NCIMB 30172).

“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,” says lead scientist, Dr Bernard Corfe, from the University’s Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group.

“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 ”  Corfe noted.

The role of vitamin D supplementation in other GI conditions is also supported by other studies which show associations between a vitamin D deficiency and inflammatory bowel disease. Vitamin D has recently been linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risks of heart and kidney disease.


Emed’s Comment

At Emed we believe that vitamin D deficiency is strongly associated with inflammatory diseases such as IBS. We note that the vitamin D deficiency level used as a bench mark in this study is alarmingly low (<20 ng/mL (50 nmol/l).

Vitamin D levels can be easily tested through Emed (or a GP). If vitamin D levels are below 80nmol/L (32ng/mL) (our bench mark) take 5 capsules or drops (5000IU) daily for 3 months and then have levels retested, otherwise take 2 capsules or drops (2000IU) daily as a maintenance dose.


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