A new study from the University of Sheffield has found that vitamin D supplements could help to ease painful Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms. In the United States, it is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the adult population suffers from IBS symptoms, yet only 5 to 7 percent of adults have been diagnosed with the disease. IBS is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.
The new study showed a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients — regardless of their ethnicity.
The Sheffield team also assessed the possible benefits of vitamin D supplements on IBS symptoms. While more research is needed, their findings suggested supplements may help to ease symptoms which can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Vitamin D was shown to have the most benefit on quality of life in IBS.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Bernard Corfe, says “The study provides an insight into the condition and, importantly, a new way to try to manage it. “It is evident from the findings that all people with IBS should have their vitamin D levels tested and a large majority of them would benefit from supplements. IBS is a poorly understood condition which impacts severely the quality of life of sufferers. There is no single known cause and likewise no single known cure.”
IBS is a debilitating functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Little is known about why and how the condition develops, although it is known that diet and stress can make symptoms worse. The symptoms often cause embarrassment for patients meaning many live with the condition undiagnosed.
Vitamin D is essential for general well being, including bone health, immune function, mental health as well as gut health. Vitamin D deficiency can be remedied relatively easily with supplements if diagnosed. Low vitamin D levels have already been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and have been implicated in inflammatory bowel disease.
The new study was published in the January 2019 edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.