12 months ago I discovered through my wonderful Brisbane doctor that I am deficient in Vitamin D. At first I thought this was completely absurd – I live in one of the sunniest places in the world, each day more beautiful and sunny than the day before. I had thought that Vitamin D was only of concern to the elderly, people who are confined indoors or dress modestly, certainly not me when I walk or run outside every day.
Even after supplementation for 3 months my vitamin D levels remained low and so for the following 3 months I had to significantly increase the dose. Now I am still supplementing with 3000IU a day to maintain my vitamin D levels. From what I have read, I haven’t found evidence to suggest that my vitamin D deficiency is related to IBS, however it has been determined that those with malabsorption syndromes such as coeliac and inflammatory bowel disease are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency (as are those with autoimmune disease) 1,4, so perhaps more research needs to be done in this area to determine if IBS and its role in other malabsorption is related. What did surprise me was that researchers1 have reported that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression2,3,4, however there is insufficient evidence to determine whether low vitamin D levels cause depression, or whether low vitamin D levels develop because someone is depressed3 and more research is needed in this area.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been related to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)5 which I believe I suffered from during my time living in the UK.
I am not a doctor or medical expert so I am certainly not qualified to comment on the medical evidence, however I feel that I can share my own experience: improving my vitamin D situation through supplementation has had a significantly positive impact on my overall well-being.
In Australia, the regulations have recently changed so that you now have to pay privately to have your blood tested for vitamin D unless you are determined to be at high risk (under the current rules I would not have been deemed as high risk), which significantly limits the number of people who the government will cover testing for.
If you have IBS or an autoimmune disease and you are seeing your doctor for a regular check-up I believe that it is worth having a conversation with them about checking your vitamin D and paying the extra for testing, simply for peace of mind….
2. Berk, M., Sanders, K.M., Pasco, J.A., Jacka, F.N., Williams, L.J., Hayles, A.L., Dodd, S. (2007). Vitamin D deficiency may play a role in depression. Med Hypotheses, 69(6):1316-9.