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Vitamin D status associated with IBS among children

Posted on: February 22, 2017   by  Vitamin D Council


A new case-control study published by the journal PLoS One found vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent among children with IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that causes cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. Although the etiology is unknown, doctors believe a combination of genetic predisposition and stress may contribute to the onset of IBS.

Vitamin D has shown to play an important role in the development and treatment of IBS among adults; however, this relationship has yet to be evaluated among children or adolescents.

Researchers recently conducted a case-control study, hypothesizing that vitamin D status would remain similar between pediatric patients with IBS and healthy controls. A total of 55 patients with IBS and 116 health controls (ages 16.5 and 14.6, respectively) were included in the analysis. Vitamin D levels below 22 ng/ml (50 nmol/l) were considered deficient, and levels of 30 ng/ml or greater were considered sufficient. The primary psychosomatic indices of IBS included depression, anxiety and migraines.

Here is what the researchers found:

  • Only 7% of IBS patients had 25(OH)D levels > 30 ng/ml; whereas 25% of controls were considered vitamin D sufficient (p = 0.006).
  • Over 50% of those with IBS had 25(OH)D levels < 22 ng/ml (p = 0.001).
  • Average vitamin D levels were significantly lower among patients with IBS than healthy controls (21 ng/ml vs 26 ng/ml; p = 0.003).
  • IBS patients who experienced migraines had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to the controls (p = 0.01). However, depression or anxiety symptoms were not significantly associated with 25(OH)D status.

The researchers concluded,

“Pediatric patients with IBS had significantly lower 25(OH)D concentration compared to controls despite having similar mean BMI values as controls.”

They continued,

“Monitoring for vitamin D deficiency should be part of the routine care for patients with IBS. Randomized control trials are warranted to determine the role of adjunctive vitamin D therapy in pediatric IBS.”


Nwosu, B., Maranda, L. & Candela, N. Vitamin D status in pediatric irritable bowel syndrome. PLoS One, 2017.

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