Association between irritable bowel syndrome and micronutrients: A systematic review

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Aug;37(8):1485-1497. doi: 10.1111/jgh.15891. Epub 2022 May 28.


Background and aim: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a highly prevalent disorder of gut brain interaction with a multifactorial etiology. Food trigger avoidance is common among individuals with IBS and exclusion diets are gaining popularity. However, recent guidelines on IBS management cautioned regarding the use of unsupervised dietary therapy with concerns of development of poor eating habits and even nutritional deficiencies. We aimed to review the available literature on the effect of habitual and exclusion diets on micronutrient status as well as the role of micronutrient supplementation in alleviating IBS symptoms.

Methods: Four electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science) were searched for articles that reported micronutrient data in patients with IBS. Serum micronutrient levels and dietary intake of micronutrients in patients with IBS were collected. The extracted data were tabulated and organized by micronutrient type to observe for trends.

Results: Twenty-six articles were included in this systematic review (12 interventional and 14 observational studies). Studies showed that generally IBS subjects had lower levels of vitamin B2, vitamin D, calcium, and iron at baseline compared with non-IBS subjects. Studies also found that exclusion diets were associated with lower intake of micronutrients especially vitamin B1, B2, calcium, iron, and zinc. There was a lack of interventional studies on micronutrients.

Conclusion: Irritable bowel syndrome patients are at risk of developing multiple micronutrient deficiencies that may have both localized gastrointestinal as well as systemic effects. Dietary management of IBS patients should include a proper dietitian review to ensure nutritional adequacy where possible.

Keywords: colonic diseases, functional; irritable bowel syndrome; micronutrients; trace elements; vitamins.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium
  • Humans
  • Iron
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / etiology
  • Micronutrients*
  • Vitamins


  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamins
  • Iron
  • Calcium