Extent of vitamin D’s role extends to easing IBS symptoms: Review

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Vitamin d status Irritable bowel syndrome Vitamin d

Vitamin D supplements could help to ease the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that include bloating, stomach cramps and constipation, a UK review concludes.

With links to other colorectal conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer, the review found a correlation between low vitamin D status and severity of IBS symptoms.

 “The study provides an insight into the condition and, importantly, a new way to try to manage it,”​ said Dr Bernard Corfe, lead study author and senior oncology lecturer at the University of Sheffield.

“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 with no single known cause and cure. Its link to vitamin D status follows a spate of recent media attention stemming from a report that found 8–24% of children and 20% adults in the UK were vitamin D deficient.

In response, the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), issued advice suggesting adults and children needed to consume 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D each day either through supplements or diet.

Study details

Dr Coffe’s review gathered the seven studies that have been published to date, which investigate the role for vitamin D in IBS.

In the four observational studies included, the consensus reported a substantial proportion of the IBS population was vitamin D deficient.

Two intervention studies reported improvement in IBS symptom severity scores and quality of life (QoL) with vitamin D supplementation.

“The available evidence suggests that low vitamin D status is common among the IBS population and merits assessment and rectification for general health reasons alone,”​ the study concluded.

“An inverse correlation between serum vitamin D and IBS symptom severity is suggested and vitamin D interventions may benefit symptoms.

“However, the available RCTs do not provide strong, generalisable evidence; larger and adequately powered interventions are needed to establish a case for therapeutic application of vitamin D in IBS.”

Dr Coffe’s team commented on the limitations of their review highlighting the studies’ vitamin D status of the wider population was not reported.

In taking this into account, the cause and effect were difficult to determine as it could be argued that individuals with IBS may exhibit behaviour changes.

They cited the increased time spent indoors as a result of the symptoms as an example suggesting this could’ve impacted on vitamin D status.

“The body of evidence accrued across multiple populations already suggests that vitamin D status assessment should be incorporated as a routine assessment,” ​the review concluded.

“This could be done alongside IBS diagnosis in routine practice to identify individuals at risk and likely to benefit from vitamin D intervention for general health as much as for IBS symptoms.”

Establishing EU vitamin D status

Given existing national structures and systems, attempts to compare serum 25(OH)D and vitamin D deficiency prevalence have proved unfeasible for regulatory agencies.

Calls to establish the use of centralised laboratories to make international estimates more reliable have also gone unheeded.

Compounding the problem is the variability from different study outcomes that have seen vitamin D and serum 25(OH)D levels range from 10% to 300%.

Although there are many likely contributory reasons for differences in vitamin D deficiency prevalence estimates between populations, differences in analytic method for serum 25(OH)D are likely to contribute.

A number of research papers have shown available 25(OH)D assays can produce markedly differing results.

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1038/s41430-017-0064-z
“Vitamin D status in irritable bowel syndrome and the impact of supplementation on symptoms: what do we know and what do we need to know?”
Authors: Claire Williams, Elizabeth Williams & Bernard Corfe

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1 comment

Sun exposure is the answer to vitamin D deficiency.

Posted by Marc,

Children would not be vitamin D deficient if they were encouraged to be outside playing in the sun, and then brought back inside when they have had enough. The same is true for adults. IBS is only one sunlight deficiency disorder caused by lack of sunlight. The incidence of myopia is also dramatically higher in children who don't play outdoors. Sunlight is absolutely necessary for the health of both children and adults, and it is estimated in a recent scientific study that sun deprivation leads to 330,000 deaths in the U.S. yearly. Here are some scientifically documented facts about sunlight and health:
•A 20-year Swedish study shows that sun avoidance is as bad for the health as cigarette smoking.
•A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
•Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
•Women who totally avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
•Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
•Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart attack risk.
•Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential to human survival, and sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain it. Sunbathing can produce 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of whole-body exposure.
•Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
•Beyond vitamin D, sun exposure also stimulates the production of endorphin, nitric oxide and BDNF, all of which are vital to human health.
•Regular sun exposure also reduces high blood pressure, heart disease, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis (MS).
•As sunscreen use has increased dramatically, melanoma has INCREASED exponentially.
For more information, visit http://sunlightinstitute.org/

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