A British study has found an association between low levels of vitamin D and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers at the University of Sheffield's Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group, investigated the association between vitamin D levels with the severity of patients' IBS symptoms and with their quality of life.
The study is a 12-week-long randomized trial that compared vitamin D supplementation with either a placebo or vitamin D and probiotics. The probiotic preparations contained Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bifidobacterium animalis.
Out of 51 patients with IBS who enrolled in the study, 82% were found to have insufficient levels of vitamin D. The researchers also found that vitamin D levels were associated with the patient's reported quality of life.
For the study participants receiving vitamin D supplementation either with probiotics or alone the percentage of participants who reached normal vitamin D levels improved from 22.2% and 25.0% to 87.5% and 92.3%, respectively. However, the improvement in symptoms was not statistically significant.
The findings show a widespread vitamin D insufficiency in people with IBS, the study noted. It may be worthwhile to test vitamin D levels in IBS patients and providing vitamin D supplementation.
IBS is a chronic, debilitating disorder of the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms include a combination of diarrhea or constipation, bloating, urgency, white or yellow mucus in the stool, and the sensation of incompletely passing feces. Why and how IBS develops is not known, but diet and stress are known to make symptoms worse. The triggers and the severity of IBS vary from one individual to another, making treatment difficult.
"IBS is a poorly understood condition that impacts severely on the quality of life of sufferers. There is no single known cause and likewise no single known cure. Clinicians and patients currently have to work together and use trial and error to manage the condition, and this may take years with no guarantee of success," said Dr. Bernard Corfe, an author of the study, to Medical News Today.