Discover how vitamin D can provide relief for inflammatory bowel disease, study reveals
(NaturalHealth365) Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – a term that includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – is characterized by chronic inflammation of the digestive tract.
With symptoms of abdominal pain, cramping and altered bowel function, IBD is a potentially debilitating condition that can raise the risk of colon cancer and blood clots. Unfortunately, the prevalence of IBD is currently increasing nationwide. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation reports that 1.6 million people in the US are now affected by inflammatory bowel disease – with 70,000 new cases diagnosed every year.
Recent scientific studies have shown that vitamin D can benefit inflammatory bowel conditions – reducing symptoms and even inducing remission. But, sadly, most Americans are deficient in this essential nutrient. Today, we’ll focus our attention on how vitamin D intake can help those with IBD.
Landmark study reveals how vitamin D can help people with inflammatory bowel disease
In a placebo-controlled study involving 90 IBS patients, researchers found that vitamin D supplementation improved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, while increasing participants’ well-being.
Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) doesn’t cause ulcers or other damage to the bowel, as IBD does, it can still affect sufferers’ quality of life with abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea and/or constipation.
The study’s design was simple.
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Half the patients were given the equivalent of 3,500 IU of vitamin D a day, while the other half received a placebo.
And, the results were clear-cut.
Over the next six months, the vitamin D group reported a significantly greater improvement in their IBS symptoms – including abdominal pain and distention, flatulence, rumbling and overall GI symptoms – than the placebo group. They also experienced increases in quality of life.
The researchers endorsed vitamin D as an “effective and safe” option for improving IBS.
Study draws praise from colleagues
The teams’ work impressed others in the medical community – among them Michael Ruscio, D.C., a noted researcher, author and functional medicine doctor.
Noting that placebo-controlled studies are the “gold standard” of medical research, Dr. Ruscio called the study “well-performed.”
The improvement in symptoms, added Dr. Ruscio, likely stemmed from vitamin D’s antimicrobial qualities, along with its ability to modulate the immune system.
Pointing out that the study dosage is “not a mega-dose, by any means,” Dr. Ruscio commented that even modest amounts of vitamin D were enough to produce benefits.
Note: While Dr. Ruscio characterizes vitamin D intervention as inexpensive and “very safe,’ he notes that people taking supplements should have their vitamin D levels checked periodically.
Extensive meta-analysis highlights role of vitamin D deficiency in IBD
The new study is not the only research to show the benefits of vitamin D for digestive diseases.
In a new meta-analysis published in Medicine – involving 18 randomized controlled trials and almost a thousand patients – the authors noted that vitamin D deficiency was prevalent among people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.
But, restoring healthy vitamin D levels through supplementation provided substantial benefits.
The researchers reported that higher concentrations of the nutrient helped to reduce inflammation and repair intestinal mucosal barriers – even inducing and maintaining remission from the disease.
The team stated that IBD is caused by an inappropriate and ongoing activation of the immune system – thereby confirming the conclusion of many natural health experts, who have long maintained that IBD has an autoimmune component.
Other risk factors for IBD include smoking cigarettes, being over 50, taking certain medications, living in an urban area and having disturbances in the gut microbiome – the body’s community of microbes that helps to maintain health.
The authors lauded vitamin D supplementation as a simple, effective, inexpensive and safe intervention for IBD.
Warning: Vitamin D deficiency is rampant in the United States
Ironically, as research continues to support the benefits of vitamin D for intestinal disorders, vitamin D deficiencies are becoming more widespread.
In fact, a shocking 42 percent of all Americans have vitamin D deficiencies. Some experts place the odds even higher, estimating that 90 percent of Americans could be said to be somewhat deficient in vitamin D.
In other words, nine out of ten people are living with shortages of this vital nutrient – which has been shown to help protect against a host of diseases, from breast cancer to pneumonia.
Isn’t it only common sense to ensure that you’re not one of them?
Because vitamin D is made in the skin in response to sunlight, you can help boost your levels with direct, sunscreen-free exposure to the sun (in sensible amounts, of course). For example, most experts recommend getting about 15-20 minutes of direct sunlight (daily), between the hours of 10 and 3 pm.
Good dietary sources of vitamin D include wild-caught salmon, organic cage-free eggs, organic mushrooms and cod-liver oil. However, supplementation may be necessary to ensure optimal levels of vitamin D – estimated at 50 to 60 nanograms per milliliter.
A simple blood test can help you and your integrative doctor determine if you are deficient, and arrive at the appropriate dosage.
Clearly, disease-fighting vitamin D is too important a nutrient to “skimp” on – especially for those living with digestive disorders.
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Sources for this article include: