As many as one in six children suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its uncomfortable symptoms, including cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. However, it appears that many children with IBS are also deficient in vitamin D.
A study published in PLOS ONE revealed that more than 90 percent of children with IBS lack vitamin D.
Being deficient in vitamin D likewise increases their risk for decreased bone mass, as having adequate vitamin D levels is important for the growth and development of bones of children.
In the study, the researchers analyzed the medical records of 55 children with IBS and compared their data to 116 healthy controls. The results revealed that one out of every two children with IBS is deficient in vitamin D compared to one out of every four healthy children and adolescents without IBS.
The study further looked into the association between vitamin D status and the presence of anxiety, depression, and migraine headaches that often come with IBS. Patients with IBS and migraine had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to controls, which suggests that supplementing with Vitamin D might improve their headache symptoms.
With these findings, the researchers recommend pediatric IBS patients to monitor their vitamin D status and supplement with vitamin D if they are deficient in the vitamin.
More on vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is one of the building blocks of bone. Vitamin D also plays a role in the nervous, muscle, and immune systems. There are three ways to get vitamin D: through the skin, from food, and from supplements. Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, beef liver, raw cheese, mushrooms, and egg yolks. After being exposed to sunlight, the body naturally produces vitamin D. However, too much exposure to the sun can result in skin aging and skin cancer, which is why many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
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The amount of vitamin D a person needs every day depends on their age. The recommended amounts of vitamin D are the following:
- Birth to 12 months: 400 international units (IU)
- Children 1 to 13 years: 600 IU
- Teens 14 to 18 years: 600 IU
- Adults 19 to 70 years: 600 IU
- Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU
Unfortunately, many are deficient in vitamin D. In the U.S. alone, approximately 42 percent of the population is vitamin D deficient. People can become deficient in vitamin D for various reasons. Some may not get enough vitamin D in their diet or have a malabsorption problem, in which they could not absorb enough vitamin D from food, while others may not get enough sunlight exposure. Some people may also have problems with their liver or kidneys that these organs cannot convert vitamin D to its active form in the body. Taking certain medicines can also interrupt the body’s ability to covert or absorb vitamin D. (Related: Vitamin D deficiency is widespread among U.S. population, expectant mothers are deficient and giving birth to deficient infants.)
As mentioned earlier, vitamin D is important for bone growth and development. Severe vitamin D deficiency can result in bone density loss, which can contribute to osteoporosis and fractures. Vitamin D deficiency can also result in many other diseases. In children, it can cause rickets, which is a rare condition that causes the bones to become soft and bend. In adults, it can result in osteomalacia, which causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Read more news stories and studies on the importance of vitamin D by going to VitaminD.news.