Vitamin D deficiency and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body and is essential for healthy bones. It also plays a role in reducing inflammation and is important for good general health and growth.

There are many studies which have shown a link between people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) having low levels of vitamin D. It is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies seen in people with Crohn’s disease. A five-year study published in 2016 found that low levels of vitamin D in people with IBD is associated with high disease severity1. It highlights the importance of monitoring and treatment for people with IBD.

Vitamin D is essential for calcium to be absorbed into the body - meaning people with a lack of vitamin D often have a lack of calcium.

A small lack of vitamin D may not cause symptoms but can cause:

A severe lack of vitamin D can result in:

People with IBD are more prone to osteoporosis and bone disease, in part, is attributed to a lack of vitamin D.

A vitamin D deficiency can be diagnosed with a blood test.

Why might people with IBD be deficient in vitamin D?

There are a few different thoughts as to why people with IBD may have less vitamin D.

These include:

How can I get more vitamin D?

Vitamin D is made under our skin in reaction to sunlight so increasing exposure to sunlight can increase your vitamin D levels. However, make sure you do this safely. In northern areas (including much of Europe) there is not thought to be enough sunlight during the winter months to get the sun exposure needed. It is therefore important to get vitamin from other sources, such as your diet or through supplements.

It is also found naturally in a small number of foods including:

There are also some foods which are fortified with vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements are also available to buy*. If you take supplements make sure you do not exceed the recommended dose.

A vitamin D injection is also offered to some people in some parts of the world.

*This is an affiliate link

References

1. Association of Vitamin D Level With Clinical Status in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A 5-Year Longitudinal Study. Toufic A Kabbani, Ioannis E Koutroubakis, Robert E Schoen, Claudia Ramos-Rivers, Nilesh Shah, Jason Swoger, Miguel Regueiro, Arthur Barrie,Marc Schwartz, Jana G Hashash, Leonard Baidoo, Michael A Dunn and David G Binion. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 111, 712-719 (May 2016)

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