IBS & Vitamin D
Recently, my mom brought over the First For Women magazine. She picked it up for us because we both suffer from hypothyroidism (and IBS), and there was an article on the cover called “The Tiredness Cure”, which had to do with the thyroid gland. She was reading the article aloud to me, and it really peaked my interest when IBS was mentioned in the article. I recently learned that hypothyroidism and IBS go hand in hand, so I continued listening. She then read aloud something very interesting. “Low vitamin D levels plague 82 percent of people with irritable bowel syndrome.” This statistic was taken from a study performed by the researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK.
How does vitamin D impact IBS?
I was shocked to hear this for the first time! I recently had my blood levels taken, and my vitamin D levels were very low. I looked at past lab results taken from over the years, and it has been very low since I was diagnosed with IBS. According to the article, IBS raises the risk of energy-straining nutritional deficiencies and, in the case of IBS-Constipation, even hypothyroidism. The article goes on to say that researchers aren’t quite sure how vitamin D and IBS are linked, but there are vitamin D receptors in the gut, and if you are low on vitamin D, this may cause harmful bowel inflammation. If you have IBS, the article suggests asking your doctor to test your vitamin D levels to determine if your levels are low. If they are, you can supplement with 2,000 to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D. The University of Sheffield study showed that daily supplementing of your vitamin D at these levels eased symptoms for 70 percent of IBS sufferers. In the study, the IBS sufferers with low vitamin D levels said they had less quality of life than those with higher levels of vitamin D. Some of the findings of their research was validated by searching the internet for forums and websites where IBS patients reported using vitamin D for IBS symptoms.
One woman reported:
“I suffer from IBS-D and have been for about 4 years now…my doctor finally put me on 50,000IU once a week for about 6 months. In that time frame I got remarkably better. I actually started to have a life again. My symptoms went away almost completely (with small episodes three times a month as opposed to every single day more than (sic) once a day).”
“I… have had IBS for about 20 years… in August 2009…I began taking 3000 IU of Vitamin D… surely but slowly, I stopped having the crazy urgency to go, and began to have normal bowel movements… I then began taking 5000 IU of vitamin D a day… and since then … I feel I have turned the tide on IBS… from going many times a day, staying at home from work… now I go… one, and maybe 2 a day… Do I think vitamin D has helped, absolutely… because I’ve been taking everything else for years.”
A third reported:
“When my prescription (for vitamin D) ran out my doctor told me to take over the counter vitamins once a day again… The longer I was off the high dose vitamin D the sicker I got… the day after I started the high dose vitamin D, I felt better quickly.”
Considering an IBS diet doesn’t normally contain fortified milk, egg yolks, and yogurt, you can incorporate salmon, canned tuna, fortified cereal, and fortified orange juice into your diet to naturally raise your vitamin D levels. Also, getting 20-25 minutes of sunshine every day can increase vitamin D levels. Other symptoms of low vitamin D include fatigue, muscle pain, cramps, and weakness, joint pain, chronic pain, weight gain, high blood pressure, restless sleep, poor concentration, headaches, bladder problems, and constipation or diarrhea.
Experts may not be exactly sure what the link is between IBS and vitamin D, but they know there is one, so I will definitely be supplementing vitamin D! This is a new study (research coming out within the past year), so I am very interested to see what else they find between the link of this vital vitamin and IBS.