Vitamin D and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Positive Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on IBS Symptoms
Sufferers of IBS know that it’s very difficult to treat. The causes of IBS, or at least of IBS symptoms, are different for each patient. Potential causes of IBS include a whole variety of factors, from intestinal microbiota to immune over-reaction to problems with the “brain-gut axis.” Some IBS patients have reported positive effects with vitamin D supplementation, potentially adding vitamin D levels to the list of factors affecting IBS.
A case study published in the BMJ has only recently brought this connection to the attention of medical researchers. The case study documents the positive effects of high-dosage vitamin D3 supplementation on a particular IBS patient, and the recurrence of IBS symptoms when supplementation was ended.
The researchers who published the case study also took note of online reports from IBS sufferers on their personal experiences with vitamin D supplements. They found that roughly 70% of those people reported an improvement of IBS symptoms with high-dosage vitamin D supplementation.1 More research on the possibility of treating IBS with vitamin D supplementation is clearly needed, but recent trials have had trouble getting large enough sample sizes or properly controlling relevant variables.2 Hopefully, that will soon change.
The full case study can be read online.
1 Sprake, E. F., Grant, V. A., & Corfe, B. M. (2012). Vitamin D3 as a novel treatment for irritable bowel syndrome: single case leads to critical analysis of patient-centred data. BMJ case reports, 2012, bcr-2012.
2 Tazzyman, S., Richards, N., Trueman, A. R., Evans, A. L., Grant, V. A., Garaiova, I., … & Corfe, B. M. (2015). Vitamin D associates with improved quality of life in participants with irritable bowel syndrome: outcomes from a pilot trial. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2(1), e000052.