Vitamin D supplementation in people with IBS has no effect on symptom severity and quality of life: results of a randomised controlled trial

Eur J Nutr. 2022 Feb;61(1):299-308. doi: 10.1007/s00394-021-02633-w. Epub 2021 Jul 30.


Purpose: Several small trials suggest a benefit of vitamin D supplementation in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The generalisability of these reports is limited by their design and scale. This study aimed to assess whether vitamin D supplementation improved IBS symptoms in a UK community setting.

Methods: This was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Participants were recruited from the community in winter months between December 2017 and March 2019. 135 participants received either vitamin D (3,000 IU p.d.) or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary outcome measure was change in IBS symptom severity; secondary outcomes included change in IBS-related quality of life.

Results: The participants were analysed on an intent-to-treat basis. 60% of participants were vitamin D deficient or insufficient at baseline. Although vitamin D levels increased in the intervention arm relative to placebo (45.1 ± 32.88 nmol/L vs 3.1 ± 26.15 nmol/L; p < 0.001). There was no difference in the change of IBS symptom severity between the active and placebo trial arms (- 62.5 ± 91.57 vs - 75.2 ± 84.35, p = 0.426) over time. Similarly there was no difference between trial arms in τhe change in quality of life (- 7.7 ± 25.36 vs - 11.31 ± 25.02, p = 0.427).

Conclusions: There is no case for advocating use of vitamin D in the management of IBS symptoms. The prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency suggests routine screening and supplementation should be implemented in this population for general health reasons. This trial was retrospectively registered with ISRCTN (ISRCTN13277340) on 24th April 2018 after recruiting had been initiated.

Keywords: Irritable bowel syndrome; Quality of life; Symptom management; Vitamin D; Vitamin D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / drug therapy


  • Vitamin D