The Vitamin Supplement that May Help Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If you’re one of the twelve percent of Americans who suffer from abdominal discomfort, bloating, irregular bowel movements and alternating constipation or diarrhea, then you may be suffering from a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The condition may come and go over the years but new research offers help, in the form of an inexpensive, readily available and easy-to-obtain nutrient.

Research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that supplementing with vitamin D may help sufferers of IBS. While many people still think of this nutrient when they’re suffering from a cold or flu, the new research shows there’s more reason than ever to ensure you’re getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. The researchers found that simply supplementing with the vitamin, which technically acts more like a natural hormone in the body, was enough to alleviate IBS symptoms.

Related: How to Treat IBS with Diet and Lifestyle

The study found an inverse relationship with vitamin D nutritional status. In other words, they found IBS symptoms tend to be higher in those with the lowest levels of the vitamin, and conversely, the symptoms are reduced in those with higher levels of the vitamin.

Earlier research in the online journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology also found a link between a vitamin D deficiency and irritable bowel syndrome.

The condition is also frequently accompanied by depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, pelvic pain and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, all of which may also suggest a gut flora imbalance which could be at least a partial reason for the reduced vitamin absorption. Most of the nutrients we ingest find their way into our bloodstream through the intestinal walls, where they move directly into the blood which then transports the nutrients to the tissues and organs that depend on them for health.

It’s not completely clear in the medical world as to what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but natural approaches usually involve reducing stress, sugar, dairy, meat and chemicals in food. And, now the addition of vitamin D may also bring relief to the condition’s sufferers.

Related: 11 Reasons to Love Vitamin D

Many misinformed health professionals lead people to believe that we get enough vitamin D from moderate sunshine exposure, but with gloomy winters and little time spent outdoors, not to mention high sunscreen use (which blocks vitamin D as well as the UV rays that help to create it), most people are simply not getting enough of the nutrient particularly at this time of year.

Some of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include: constipation, burning in the mouth or throat, dental cavities, cracked teeth, insomnia, joint pain, bone pain, muscle cramps, nervousness, osteomalacia (softening of the bones) and osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is involved in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin and teeth, and the new research also suggests gut health. While sunlight and fish are the primary sources of the nutrient it is also found in smaller amounts in sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, mushrooms and some sprouts.

Supplementation with D3, known as cholecalciferol, the type of vitamin D that has been used in most studies showcasing the vitamin’s benefits, is recommended.  However, it is usually sourced from fish so you may wish to choose synthetic vitamin D2, ergocalciferol, if you are vegan.  Most health professionals recommend 800 to 2000 IU daily; however, stick to the lower dose if you choose synthetic vitamin D2. Avoid higher doses of this vitamin unless you are closely monitored by a nutritionist since the vitamin can build up to toxic amounts when taken in excessive doses over time.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, president of ScentsationalWellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.


Amanda M
Amanda M24 days ago

Colin Clauscen, tell me about it! Got diagnosed with it two years ago (goddamn you, perimenopause!), and when it flares up it makes my life absolute hell! I already get the RDA of D3 courtesy of my calcium supplements, and that combined with healthy eating, probiotics, and keeping track of my cycle (well, trying to anyway) and knowing to expect flare-ups when life's stressing me out more than usual make it close to bearable. I still hate the condition, but I'm learning to live with it. I just hope it quits when menopause is done wringing me out!

caroline lord
caroline lord29 days ago

yes,i think it does help

Teresa W
Teresa W29 days ago


heather g
heather gabout a month ago

I'm on track !

Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago


Alison C
Alison Cabout a month ago

I found Symprove probiotics to be very helpful for my IBS. It is similar to the VSL #3 that someone else mentioned.

Julie W
Julie Wabout a month ago

I don't have IBS, but I do have colitis - irritated colon - which is also not nice to have. I have to stick to a low fibre diet or I get quite sick, so I take a lot of magnesium to avoid constipation. 600mg elemental magnesium a day.
Be careful reading labels, they can be confusing. The brand I buy says 500mg, equal to 100 elemental magnesium.

Janis K
Janis Kabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

Ellen J
Ellen Jabout a month ago

Lots of good tips below in the comments. Thanks for the article and the tips from readers.

Carol W
Carol Wabout a month ago

thank you