Background: Low vitamin D status is associated with risk of colorectal cancer and has been implicated in inflammatory bowel disease. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, relapsing, functional bowel disorder. A nascent literature suggests a role for vitamin D in IBS, but this has not been collated or critiqued. To date, seven studies have been published: four observational studies and three randomised controlled trials (RCTs). All observational studies reported that a substantial proportion of the IBS population was vitamin D deficient. Two intervention studies reported improvement in IBS symptom severity scores and quality of life (QoL) with vitamin D supplementation. There are limited data around the role of vitamin D in IBS.
Conclusions: The available evidence suggests that low vitamin D status is common among the IBS population and merits assessment and rectification for general health reasons alone. An inverse correlation between serum vitamin D and IBS symptom severity is suggested and vitamin D interventions may benefit symptoms. However, the available RCTs do not provide strong, generalisable evidence; larger and adequately powered interventions are needed to establish a case for therapeutic application of vitamin D in IBS.