Vitamin D supplements could help to ease painful irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, a new study from the University of Sheffield has found.
Scientists from the University’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism reviewed and integrated all available research on vitamin D and IBS—a condition that affects two in 10 people in the U.K.
The 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. Whilst they believe more research still needs to be conducted, their findings suggested supplements might 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.
“The study provides an insight into the condition and, importantly, a new way to try to manage it,” said Dr. Bernard Corfe, lead author of the study. “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 that impacts severely on 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.
IBS accounts for 10 percent of visits to GP surgeries and the condition has a significant and escalating burden on society as a consequence of lost workdays and time spent on regular hospital appointments.
Vitamin D is essential for general wellbeing, including bone health, immune function, mental health as well as gut health. Vitamin D inadequacy can be remedied relatively easily with supplements if diagnosed. Low vitamin D status has already been associated with the risk of colorectal cancer and has been implicated in inflammatory bowel disease.
For more information, visit www.sheffield.ac.uk.