Posted on Tue, 18 Oct 16
Supplementation with vitamin D has previously been shown to benefit digestive health, and a new study helps explain why: vitamin D improves your gut bacteria.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to the development of digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), intestinal infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and colon cancer. And in some cases supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to reduce disease activity.
The immunological activity of vitamin D, especially its anti-inflammatory effects, are thought to help explain its digestive health benefits, yet it may be that vitamin D is improving the health of your gut bacteria. However, nobody had investigated that possibility until now.
In their experiment a research team from Austria took samples of gut bacteria from several areas across the gastrointestinal system of people given high-dose vitamin D for 8-weeks, and what they discovered was striking.
They found significant changes after vitamin D supplementation in the upper gastrointestinal tract, which included a reduction in opportunistic pathogens and an increase in bacterial richness.
Decreased bacterial richness and an overgrowth of pathogens are both associated with gastrointestinal disease.
This discovery “might in part explain the effects of a vitamin D-rich diet on IBD or bacterial infections and encourage studying the effects of vitamin D in these patients,” concluded the study investigators.
While we await more research, you can easily treat and prevent vitamin D deficiency now.
Bashir M, Prietl B, Tauschmann M, et al. Effects of high doses of vitamin D3 on mucosa-associated gut microbiome vary between regions of the human gastrointestinal tract. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jun;55(4):1479-89.