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Vitamin D could be key to helping IBS sufferers

Vitamin D could be key to helping IBS sufferers

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers could benefit from upping their levels of Vitamin D.

IBS is a chronic, but common, gut disorder, with around 15 per cent of the western population diagnosed with the disease. It affects people in different ways, with symptoms including bloating, stomach cramps and alternating bowel habits.

Diet and stress can be triggers, but now scientists at the University of Sheffield have found another: a lack of Vitamin D. The vitamin is produced when sunlight hits the skin, meaning people in colder countries are at risk of being deficient. It can also be found in foods including milk and tuna.

The researchers tested 51 patients’ Vitamin D levels and found 82 per cent of IBS sufferers were lacking and that the vitamin could help alleviate symptoms.

“Our work has shown that most IBS suffers in our trial had insufficient levels of vitamin D,” study leader Dr Bernard Corfe, of the university’s molecular gastroenterology research group, explained.

“There was an association between the Vitamin D status and the sufferer’s perceived quality of life, measured by the extent to which they reported impact on IBS on life.”

As IBS symptoms can be embarrassing, many sufferers stay silent and avoid seeking help. It can greatly affect quality of life, which Dr Corfe worries about.

“IBS is a poorly understood condition which impacts severely on the quality of life of sufferers,” he added.

“There is no single known cause and likewise no single known cure.”

The new research could now make IBS easier to manage. If you suffer from the condition, it could be worth having your Vitamin D levels tested and taking supplements as necessary.

“Our data provide a potential new insight into the condition and importantly a new way to manage it,” Dr Corfe continued.

“It was clear from our findings that many people with IBS should have their vitamin D levels tested, and the data suggests that they may benefit from supplementation with vitamin D.

“As a result of this exploratory study, we’re now able to design and justify a larger and more definitive clinical trial.”

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