Smorgasbord Health Column – Nutrient in the News – Vitamin D and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Part of my work as a nutritional therapist involves keeping up to date with new research. Even though I am no longer working with clients on a one to one basis, I like to make sure that my posts and books are updated regularly.

Those of you who are regulars to my health posts will know that I am passionate about communicating the fact that those of us living in northern climates with limited sun exposure are at a risk of Vitamin D deficiency. This is more so for children who spend less time than ever outdoors playing in sunlight or even daylight.

This research was featured recently in Science News.

Vitamin D supplements could help to ease painful Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, a new study from the University of Sheffield has found.

Scientists from the University’s Department of Oncology and Metabolism reviewed and integrated all available research on vitamin D and IBS — a condition which affects two in 10 people in the UK.

The study showed a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients — regardless of their ethnicity.

The Sheffield team also assessed the possible benefits of vitamin D supplements on IBS symptoms. Whilst they believe more research still needs to be conducted, their findings suggested supplements may help to ease symptoms which can include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Vitamin D was shown to have the most benefit on quality of life in IBS.

Read the rest of the article: Science Daily Vitamin D

Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

I high percentage of my clients over the years have been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is a health issue that affects millions of men, women and children worldwide. There is a massive amount of information out there on the condition and it can become confusing as to the why, how and what to do about it when it effects us personally.

Stop and Rewind.

I am afraid if there is a disease with a syndrome in the title it means that the professionals really do not know the why, how and what to do either! In diseases like this symptoms are lumped together and given them a collective name. As in Irritable Bowel Syndrome……..

In working with men, women and children who have these symptoms for the last 20 years I too cannot give you a definitive cause. However, I have found it useful to stop and rewind.

Infant years

It helps if you have a parent alive who can tell you if you were a colic prone baby, cried a great deal, demanded a bottle frequently but failed to put weight on and thrive and had several stomach upsets. This is probably due to lactose intolerance – milk sugar basically which is in human milk and then of course dairy which babies tend to be weaned onto.


If that was not the case then I would look at anti-biotic prescription from as early as the client could determine. If not then would track back to when the early stage symptoms of intestinal issues first presented. I could track mine to age 11 when I had six courses of anti-biotics before finally having my tonsils removed. I put on three stone in three months and developed an unhealthy addiction to sugar.

Hormonal imbalance, dieting, lifestyle

Then teenage years – hormonal fluctuations or prescription drugs such as those for acne that might have affected intestinal flora – also any eating disorders,anorexia in particular that not only starved the gut of food to produce bacteria but also caused nutritional deficiency.

Late teens early twenties – perhaps taking the contraceptive pill- start of drinking more alcohol – busy lives and very often symptoms being ignored. By this time many people have developed an overgrowth of Candida Albicans and of course diet plays a role, especially if high in sugars and processed foods.

Here are the posts for Candida and sugars that you should read if you have IBS symptoms.

Women will continue to experience hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy until their 60s when menopause is complete. Certainly taking HRT may effect the intestinal flora resulting in an imbalance for as long as that is taken.

Men are affected in a similar way during their lifetimes especially in relation to hormonal changes in the teen years and middle age, although IBS is more associated with women which leads weight to the hormone contributory factor.

Then from around 70 there is a decline in both activity and appetite. Less food is eaten and if dental health is not great, the variety of food is also decreased. To add to this lack of nutrient variety, you have to add in the natural decrease in digestive enzymes and acids which means that food is processed less efficiently.


Throughout a person’s lifetime suffering from this embarrassing, painful and life affecting health problem, you have to add the element of stress. The more we stress about the symptoms the more they will intensify. You become obsessed with finding bathrooms and what you eat. I have had clients come to me worn out, depressed and stressed out, trying to exist on a handful of foods that someone has told them they can eat – with a far longer list of prohibited foods – FOR LIFE. This leads to an increase in the problems and the far more dangerous risk of severe nutritional deficiency and even more severe health problems.

So – here is a brief look at the syndrome and then later in the week  I am going to give you a simple but effective way to reduce the symptoms, increase the healthy bacteria in the gut and lessen the stress associated with the problem. It will also help you identify the particular cause of your particular symptoms. This is tried and tested – so many of my clients presented with these symptoms that we had plenty of opportunity to see the process evolve into a successful management of the condition.

IBS – Where is the problem?

The bowel is the term used for both the large and the small intestine.In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, it is usually the large intestine which is involved, as this is where our stool is stored and is likely to cause the most problems. When I was working with clients, I found over a number of years that there were strong links between those who were lactose intolerant (milk sugar) from birth, Candida Albicans from childhood antibiotics and as adults following gastric upsets and taking medication, and a lifelong consumption of refined sugars. These all result in a bacterial imbalance in the gut leading to the most common symptoms experienced by those diagnosed as suffering from IBS.

What sort of symptoms are involved?

These will vary from person to person. They will also vary in severity and timing. The most common symptoms are:

  • · Abdominal pain or cramping
  • · Bloated feeling after eating.
  • · Gas.
  • · Diarrhoea and or constipation
  • · Mucus in the stool
  • · Depression.
  • · Lower back pain
  • · Chronic fatigue
  • · Panic attacks and palpitations
  • · Heartburn
  • · Light-headedness after eating

What causes these symptoms?

The walls of the intestine are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax as they move the food from your stomach, through the intestinal tract and the rectum. Normally, this is co-ordinated and rhythmic but if you suffer from IBS, the contractions are much stronger and last longer. This causes the food to be rushed through the system. It is not processed properly – because it is not digested – and it can cause diarrhoea in the first instance. This leads to dehydration – and that affects the balance of fluids and causes further undigested food to block the intestine and – leading to constipation and stomach bloating and cramps. It is a typical vicious circle. As the nutritional deficiency develops there will of course be an affect on the whole system and the organs, hence palpitations, dizziness and could lead to heart disease, diabetes and cancers.

Later this week – a six week plan to reduce symptoms, increase healthy bacteria and function to the intestines and to identify which foods or one food is causing your IBS.

I am happy to answer questions confidentially by email if you prefer at If your question is general and might help someone else then please include in the comments.  I hope this has been helpful.