Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects approximately 9-23% of people worldwide and 10-15% of people in the US. Although it is accepted that dietary factors and stress exacerbate symptoms, doctors have been stymied as to why and how it develops and there is no known cure. A study performed at the University of Sheffield, by the Molecular Gastroenterology Research Group, discovered that out of 51 patients with IBS, 82% had low levels of vitamin D. This study, which is the first of it’s kind, also found an association between vitamin D levels and the patient’s perceived quality of life, as measured by the extent to which they reported impact of the IBS on their life. IBS is a chronic and debilitating disease that can have a severely negative, and sometimes embarrassing impact. With symptoms that include diarrhea and constipation, many individuals who suffer chose not to seek treatment, and live with the condition undiagnosed. Dr. Corfe says that this data provides “a potential new insight into the condition and importantly a new way to try to manage it”. The researchers are planning on carrying out a larger and more definitive clinical trial and suggest that vitamin D testing and supplementation could help many patients.
Simon Tazzyman, Nicholas Richards, Andrew R Trueman, Amy L Evans, Vicky A Grant, Iveta Garaiova, Sue F Plummer, Elizabeth A Williams, Bernard M Corfe. Vitamin D associates with improved quality of life in participants with irritable bowel syndrome: outcomes from a pilot trial. BMJ Open Gastroenterology, 2015; e000052 DOI: 10.1136/bmjgast-2015-000052