Is irritable bowel syndrome and lack of enough vitamin D in the body related? Well, it seems so, at least that is what a new study by UMass – University of Massachusetts Medical School shows. As a result, Dr. Benjamin Nwosu, who is also a leading author and the associate professor of paediatrics at UMass said that Vitamin D should be supplemented in the diet of the patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. This study was published in the PLOS ONE scientific journal.

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Today, in every six children, one is affected by IBS. Although it is not really a disease, IBS is considered as a disabling functional disorder with many symptoms. These include constipation, bloating, tummy cramps and diarrhoea.

Some of the sources of Vitamin D include foods such as egg yolks, salmon, tuna and liver. Milk and orange juice also contain vitamin D, that is, if they are fortified with vitamin D. this vitamin is very important for bone development in children and even in adults, it is important for strengthening the bones. One of the main functions, perhaps the only one, of vitamin D is that it helps the body to absorb calcium, which is a very important mineral in the building and strengthening of bones.

While most of the vitamin D is provided to the body through food, the body makes its own when you bask in the sun.

What happens when one is deficient in Vitamin D? Many things can happen, but the most outstanding of them is muscle weakness and decreased bone mass. In addition, since the vitamin D is used to send signals to the brain to order the immune system to defend the body against pathogens, when the body lacks vitamin D, this function fails.

What the UMass study revealed

Back to the UMass study; the records of 116 children without IBS and 55 children with IBS were scrutinized. The researchers found that compared to the 75% of the healthy children who were not vitamin D deficient, 93% of the children that had IBS were Vitamin D deficient.

The National Institute of Health uses a stricter definition of vitamin D, they found out that more than half the children suffering from IBS were vitamin D deficient.

Dr Nwosu said that one of the causes of vitamin D deficiency in the area is that there isn’t enough exposure to direct sunshine. Children in the northern latitudes will not get enough sunshine but all the same, children with IBS suffered more vitamin D deficiency.

This further complicates things because children with IBS always feel unwell and will not be able to get out often receiving the sun. Added to scarce dietary choices, it means they do not get vitamin D from the sun or the food. Double scarcity!

Choosy eaters and people who avoid eating foods like fish, dairy products and meats are apt to be vitamin D deficient. People who eat meat a lot have a lot of vitamin D.

With Vitamin D deficiency having become too rampant, Dr. Nwosu says that the best thing to do is for clinicians to perform regular screenings for children in the affected areas. They should also prescribe vitamin D supplements for the IBS victims in the measures of 30 to 100 nanograms/ml. An overdose of these supplements could lead to headaches, fatigue and confusion.