Can Vitamin D Treat IBS?

Can vitamin D be used to treat IBS (bloating, gas, abdominal pain, etc.)? The health benefits of vitamin D supplementation appear to have been overstated. However, a landmark study has documented that vitamin D supplementation can improve IBS symptoms when compared to placebo.

If you need help using vitamin D or managing your IBS, click here

Can Vitamin D Treat IBS?

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio. And let’s discuss this issue. Irritable bowel syndrome has a number of symptoms that can constitute it. But typically, there is gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and altered bowel function—constipation, diarrhea. And it’s a very common condition. Many people suffer with some degree with the symptoms of IBS.

So we’ve all heard about vitamin D. And I think we’ve heard a lot of claims that vitamin D is kind of like the next wonder supplement. And we reviewed previously how many of those claims have probably been over-exaggerated. However, we still want to keep a keen eye to literature and see if there are areas where vitamin D supplementation seems prudent, seems to make sense, seems to be helpful.

Recently and very excitingly, a landmark study Trusted SourcePubMedGo to source was published where a group of patients, all of whom had IBS, half of them were given vitamin D. The other half were given placebo—so placebo control, so very good science. And the symptoms were tracked over the course of six months. And what the researchers found was that there was a significant impact on symptoms of IBS in the vitamin D supplementation group compared to those who did not receive the vitamin D.

And I’ll just quote from the study here. “Over the six-month intervention period, a significantly greater improvement in IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain and distention, flatulence, rumbling, and overall gastrointestinal symptoms was observed in the patients receiving vitamin D as compared to placebo.”

The only thing that didn’t positively change was bowel habit. So if people were constipated or had diarrhea, there didn’t seem to be a large impact on their frequency of bowel movements. But all the other symptoms improved.

Now, these patients were given 50,000 IUs of vitamin D3 every other week. And if you were to take vitamin D orally, this would equate to about 3,500 IUs a day. Most vitamin D supplements contain about 2,000 IUs per capsule or per drop or per pearl or whatever it is. So what we see here is that a very reasonable dose of vitamin D—not a mega-dose, nothing crazy—3,500 IUs a day roughly or 50,000 IUs every other week was enough to have a favorable impact on symptoms in IBS.

Now, why is this? Perhaps it’s the antimicrobial benefits that we see from vitamin D. But potentially, it’s the immunomodulatory impact that we see from vitamin D where we don’t necessarily know exactly why.

This study wasn’t trying to answer the why. It was trying to answer the question of, clinically and very practically, does vitamin D supplementation help with the symptoms of IBS? This study, which was a very well-performed study looking at humans, placebo versus control, clearly showed that there was a benefit for IBS symptoms with vitamin D.

So taking a reasonable dose of vitamin D is probably not a bad idea for those that have IBS. It’s inexpensive. It’s very safe. And just as long as you have your vitamin D levels periodically monitored to make sure that you don’t become excessive in vitamin D, then I think this is a fairly safe play.

Of course, this is just the first study of its kind, at least to my knowledge. So to be very conservative, we’d want to see this repeated a few more times. But again, this is kind of your gold standard level of science, a placebo control trial.

So if you’re suffering with IBS, a reasonable dose of vitamin D—either 50,000 IUs every other week or we could theorize 3,500 IUs every day—has a very good chance to help with your IBS symptoms.

So this is Dr. Ruscio. And I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks.

If you need help using vitamin D or managing your IBS, click here

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Discussion

I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!

32 thoughts on “Can Vitamin D Treat IBS?

  1. I have IBS symptoms, but I currently already take 5000 IU of D daily, at my doctor’s recommendation. Should I try upping that, every other week? or would that be dangerous? I also take magnesium, Omega 3’s, multivitamin, and several other supplements like turmeric, MSM, and glucosamine. I am a female around 50 yo.

    1. Hi Shannon,
      You could speak with your doctor about following the dosing protocol from this study, but if vitamin D hasn’t help you after a few months it’s probably a better bet to look into other treatments for IBS; diet (low FODMAP, elimination), probiotics and/or the treatment of SIBO. Hope this helps.

      1. Dr. R, I went to a gastroenterologist last week and he prescribed Xifaxan. In reading about it, I am excited to take it and hope it helps with some of the things I “might” have and have read about with my symptoms, such as IBS, SIBO, Candida and so forth. He thought it may help with any of these that I may have. I also scheduled a colonoscopy in three weeks. My hand eczema really kicked up after taking it over the weekend, but I am powering through and hope it will subside.
        I am taking a probiotic I found on Amazon, Nutrition Essentials, though I spoke to the nurse and she told me the doc usually recommends Align. Also I have to go in to my dermatologist to get more eczema topical medicine–Halobetasol. I have been trying to avoid drugs as much as possible but am really hoping this works. Do you have any recommendations of probiotics and prebiotics and how to take them with Xifaxan, and any dietary recommendations?

  2. I have IBS symptoms, but I currently already take 5000 IU of D daily, at my doctor’s recommendation. Should I try upping that, every other week? or would that be dangerous? I also take magnesium, Omega 3’s, multivitamin, and several other supplements like turmeric, MSM, and glucosamine. I am a female around 50 yo.

    1. Hi Shannon,
      You could speak with your doctor about following the dosing protocol from this study, but if vitamin D hasn’t help you after a few months it’s probably a better bet to look into other treatments for IBS; diet (low FODMAP, elimination), probiotics and/or the treatment of SIBO. Hope this helps.

      1. Dr. R, I went to a gastroenterologist last week and he prescribed Xifaxan. In reading about it, I am excited to take it and hope it helps with some of the things I “might” have and have read about with my symptoms, such as IBS, SIBO, Candida and so forth. He thought it may help with any of these that I may have. I also scheduled a colonoscopy in three weeks. My hand eczema really kicked up after taking it over the weekend, but I am powering through and hope it will subside.
        I am taking a probiotic I found on Amazon, Nutrition Essentials, though I spoke to the nurse and she told me the doc usually recommends Align. Also I have to go in to my dermatologist to get more eczema topical medicine–Halobetasol. I have been trying to avoid drugs as much as possible but am really hoping this works. Do you have any recommendations of probiotics and prebiotics and how to take them with Xifaxan, and any dietary recommendations?

    1. Hi Susan,
      I wouldn’t be inclined to think vitamin D would help all IBS, but its worth a shot. In your case I would look into other causes and treatments for IBS; diet, probios, SIBO, etc…. Hope this helps!

  3. Vitamin D was ineffective against IBS for me at 2-4K per day, and according to lab tests, I wasn’t deficient to begin with.

    1. Hi Susan,
      I wouldn’t be inclined to think vitamin D would help all IBS, but its worth a shot. In your case I would look into other causes and treatments for IBS; diet, probios, SIBO, etc…. Hope this helps!

  4. HAve you seen vitamin D cause constipation? I have an ileostomy, so I can’t really get “constipated” but whenever I use vitamin D (any amount) my output thickens up, slows down, and I get an increase in bloating. I give up after a few days so I wonder if I may just need to let my body adjust (I get in plenty of magnesium and k2)

  5. HAve you seen vitamin D cause constipation? I have an ileostomy, so I can’t really get “constipated” but whenever I use vitamin D (any amount) my output thickens up, slows down, and I get an increase in bloating. I give up after a few days so I wonder if I may just need to let my body adjust (I get in plenty of magnesium and k2)

  6. I take aminos and 90m probiotics, which helped a great deal. I do agree that regularly taking vitamin D like I’m supposed to makes me feel completely normal.
    …i take the 1st 2 for IBS and D bc I’m deficient.

  7. I take aminos and 90m probiotics, which helped a great deal. I do agree that regularly taking vitamin D like I’m supposed to makes me feel completely normal.
    …i take the 1st 2 for IBS and D bc I’m deficient.

  8. I take only 25.000IU once a month (just to be on the safe side,I’m not sure I’m deficient) but it’s drastically changed my IBS symptoms. I used to have a normal bowel movement maybe once or twice a week while having diarrhea the rest of the week. Now, it only happens maybe twice a month. I have more gas than usual, but it seems more related to diet.
    So there must be something to this vitamin D treatment for IBS! Seems like a relatively safe and definitely inexpensive thing to try if you suffer from IBS.

  9. I take only 25.000IU once a month (just to be on the safe side,I’m not sure I’m deficient) but it’s drastically changed my IBS symptoms. I used to have a normal bowel movement maybe once or twice a week while having diarrhea the rest of the week. Now, it only happens maybe twice a month. I have more gas than usual, but it seems more related to diet.
    So there must be something to this vitamin D treatment for IBS! Seems like a relatively safe and definitely inexpensive thing to try if you suffer from IBS.

  10. Vitamin D absolutely helps. I’ve had IBS since 2010 and recently in the last 2 years it’s been horrific. I have IBS-C and I had to go to the doctor because I was impacted. The doctor said that every square inch of my intestine was filled with stool. 🙁

    I used to be an avid suntanner and I noticed my attacks would cease the more rays I got. Then for the last 3 years I stayed out of the sun and I suddenly started having constant attacks.

    I’ve been suntanning again for the last two weeks and taking 2000 iu of supplements and my IBS is in full remission, like I never even had it. Bowel movements and digestion are completely normal.

    I’m no longer going to listen to the so-called “experts” who keep telling us to stay out of the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of so many health problems, from IBS to obesity. Look it up.

  11. Vitamin D absolutely helps. I’ve had IBS since 2010 and recently in the last 2 years it’s been horrific. I have IBS-C and I had to go to the doctor because I was impacted. The doctor said that every square inch of my intestine was filled with stool. 🙁

    I used to be an avid suntanner and I noticed my attacks would cease the more rays I got. Then for the last 3 years I stayed out of the sun and I suddenly started having constant attacks.

    I’ve been suntanning again for the last two weeks and taking 2000 iu of supplements and my IBS is in full remission, like I never even had it. Bowel movements and digestion are completely normal.

    I’m no longer going to listen to the so-called “experts” who keep telling us to stay out of the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of so many health problems, from IBS to obesity. Look it up.

  12. Hi Dr. Ruscio,
    I also suffer from IBS and GERD. I seem to get worse gas and bloating with Vitamin D3. The one I take has soybean oil in it and is 2000 iu. Bowel frequency is from 4 to 7 times a day but not diarrhea. I tried the low Fodmap diet but it hasn’t really helped. My gastro doc had no answers for me. I am also having severe problems with dairy so haven’t been able to take probiotics. Any suggestions you might have for me?

    1. Hi Holly,

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with this. Vitamin D is helpful for a lot of people with IBS, but not everyone. I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, as it walks you through how to do the exact protocol he uses in his clinic to help people overcome frustrating digestive issues. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook Hope this helps!

  13. Hi Dr. Ruscio,
    I also suffer from IBS and GERD. I seem to get worse gas and bloating with Vitamin D3. The one I take has soybean oil in it and is 2000 iu. Bowel frequency is from 4 to 7 times a day but not diarrhea. I tried the low Fodmap diet but it hasn’t really helped. My gastro doc had no answers for me. I am also having severe problems with dairy so haven’t been able to take probiotics. Any suggestions you might have for me?

    1. Hi Holly,

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with this. Vitamin D is helpful for a lot of people with IBS, but not everyone. I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, as it walks you through how to do the exact protocol he uses in his clinic to help people overcome frustrating digestive issues. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *