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Vitamin D Levels May Impact Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The direct cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is unknown, and while there is no absolute cure, the syndrome is manageable through life and dietary changes. IBS occurs when the bowels become irritated, inflamed, or bloated due to the ingestion of certain foods and liquids. Recently, studies have shown that certain vitamins may also trigger the disease, specifically vitamin D levels. Web MD confirms; “About 8 in 10 people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) also have low vitamin D levels, according to a small British study. Although these are early results, researchers say that in the future, people with the disease might benefit from vitamin D screening tests and supplements. The vitamin is essential for the body, including for healthy bones. We get some of it from food, but most of it is made in the skin after we get sunlight.”


Similar studies have been published which support this idea, including one which was recently documented in BMJ Open Gastroenterology.


Vitamin D Benefits


More than just your gastrointestinal tract is effected by vitamin D intake. It also helps to regulate the absorption of minerals such as phosphorus and calcium, and in turn assists in the development of teeth and bones. The vitamin has been linked to a reduction in risks for type 1 diabetes, as well as certain types of cancer.


Vitamin D, in its most natural form, is drawn from time spent in the sun. From walking outside in nature to swimming at the beach. It can also be taken as a supplement, or obtained in a number of food products which have been enhanced with vitamins and minerals for greater health.


Irritable Bowel Symptoms


Irritable bowel syndrome is not fatal, but can be very uncomfortable, and even painful. It is similar to colitis in terms of many symptoms. These include diarrhea, constipation, gassiness and bloating, abdominal cramping, stomach pain and nausea, and other gastrointestinal function alterations.


Normally the syndrome is controlled by cutting out cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, which may cause gassiness even in somebody without stomach issues. Other foods which can be problematic include beans, lettuce, spicy peppers, soy beans, and carbonated beverages. Nutritionists and doctors normally advise patients suffering from IBS to avoid these foods, and eat more complex carbohydrates and drinking water. EmedicineHealth.com explains; “It has been suggested that IBS is caused by dietary allergies or food sensitivities, but this has never been proven. Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may worsen during periods of stress or during menstruation, but these factors are unlikely to be the cause that leads to the development of IBS.”


Now, these recent reports of low vitamin D being a factor in the development of the syndrome, means that increasing these levels may also help to treat symptoms.


Lower Than Average Levels


Research found through a recent study by the University of Sheffield’s Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group found that 82% of participants in the study had lower than average levels of vitamin D. Something interesting with this particular study was that the vitamin D level also reflected the height of symptoms which each sufferer experienced. Medical News Today reports; “Out of 51 patients with IBS, 82% exhibited insufficient vitamin D levels; moreover, the vitamin D status reflected the sufferer's perceived quality of life, measured by the extent to which they reported the impact on IBS on life.”


These findings prompted one of the lead researchers on the project to enhance her own vitamin D dosage. Suffering from IBS for 30 years of her life, Vicky Grant began taking a supplement which provided relief from much of the symptoms she was experiencing.


The Reason Behind The Fix


In the past similar research hasn’t been able to pinpoint whether vitamin D was impacting IBS, but the latest findings have shown that it may not be a direct link between the disorder and the vitamin, but the way that the vitamin aids other health issues. An upset stomach can be caused by stress, digestion issues, and a number of other factors. Vitamin D has shown an ability to create something of a butterfly effect by assisting in one area of the body, which in turn relieves pain or tension in the gut. The vitamin D boost can also affect mood and eating habits, which in turn will ease symptoms caused by IBS.


Before any individual begins making drastic changes in supplements, vitamins, and diet, a doctor or nutritionist should be consulted. Any dietary change can come with side effects, particularly for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. To avoid stomach distress, transitioning into a new meal plan slowly is often suggested.


If you are interested in learning more about vitamin D and its possible benefits in battling IBS, speak to your doctor. It could be something as simple as taking an extra supplement in the morning, or making time to get outside once a day. Those with IBS as a result of low vitamin D, may feel harsher symptoms during the winter months when sunny days are harder to come by and more individuals spend time inside to escape the cold and snow.


Future Research


Fortunately, research on IBS and contributing factors has given scientists more opportunities to study vitamin supply and effect. In regards to the vitamin D deficiency concept, researchers could take their studies to different states and even different countries, testing the levels of IBS symptoms based on the amount of sun in each location.

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