Low Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, many people living with irritable bowel syndrome are vitamin D deficient. Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a chronic and debilitating disorder of the gastrointestinal tract and despite the fact that it affects up to a third of the UK population at some time, it remains something of a mystery.
Irritable bowel syndrome affects people in different ways but the common symptoms are:
- Pain and cramping in the stomach
- Excess wind
- Passing mucus when having a poo
- A feeling that you haven’t emptied your bowels properly after going to the toilet
Occasionally, sufferers will experience other symptoms, such as:
- Bladder problems and urinary incontinence
- Pain during intercourse
These symptoms can cause great embarrassment to patients and there is no cure.
Triggers and effects vary from person to person which makes treating the condition difficult.
Researchers, led by Dr Bernard Corfe, from the University of Sheffield’s Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group, investigated the association between levels of vitamin D and the severity of IBS & how it affected the patient’s quality of life.
Out of 51 patients with IBS, 82% were found to have insufficient vitamin D levels and this had a negative impact on their quality of life.
Dr Corfe says that the data provides “a potential new insight into the condition and importantly a new way to try to manage it.”
Researcher Vicky Grant has lived with IBS for over 30 years but has experienced a significant improvement in her condition since taking a high dose of vitamin D3 supplement about 5 years ago. She noted that other treatments had been ineffective and that the benefits of vitamin D could also help in treating high blood pressure and heart & kidney disease.
The research team plan to carry out a larger clinical trial but suggest that testing for vitamin D levels and then supplementation if needed, could help many patients.
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