According to a new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield, taking vitamin D supplements can help to relieve the painful symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
The study, which was published in the latest issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was a meta-analysis of several papers which had previously been published. The team of researchers from the Department of Oncology and Metabolism at the University of Sheffield looked at all available research on vitamin D and IBS.
They noticed that vitamin D deficiency was higher among patients with IBS irrespective of their other features such as age, sex, ethnicity etc. This led them to assess whether supplementation with vitamin D could offer any benefits to patients with IBS.
They found that vitamin D eased many of the symptoms of IBS, including pain over the abdomen, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
Included in the meta-analysis were seven studies that had been published on the topic, four of which were observational studies and three were randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
All four observational studies showed that many IBS sufferers have low vitamin D. From the three randomized trials, two showed improvement in IBS symptom severity scores as well as quality of life of sufferers when Vitamin D was supplemented.
“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 authors concluded.
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.”
Dr Bernard Corfe, Lead Author of the study and Principal Investigator in Molecular Gastroenterology at the University of Sheffield
He explained that IBS was poorly understood and difficult to treat. It can severely affect the quality of life of an individual. He added that there was no known cause for this condition and likewise no known cure.
Further larger and more robust clinical trials are necessary to understand the role of Vitamin D in IBS, but this is a promising finding.
The symptoms of IBS severely reduce an individual’s quality of life and effective treatment for this condition, especially with something as simple vitamin D supplementation, could be a huge step forward, say experts.