Vitamin D and IBD: Exploring nutrition


Today is another nutrition article and I am going to be tackling vitamin D aka the sunshine vitamin. I figured this might be the perfect time to tackle the vitamin since the weather is so miserable right now. 

As always, I will be explaining how this vitamin works, how it is linked to the gut and some simple tips on improving your vitamin D intake. If you enjoy the post, make sure you sign up for my A Balanced Belly email club to keep in the loop with my new posts or join my facebook group: Healthy Living with IBD.

What is Vitamin D and what does it do?

Vitamin D is a vitamin that is largely responsible for promoting calcium absorption in the intestinal tract and bones.  Vitamin D is manufactured in our bodies but it only does this through sunlight making contact with the skin or sometimes through food (more on this later).

Vitamin D deficiency is becoming increasingly common in England and its symptoms include bone pain, fatigue and trouble thinking clearly.

How does Vitamin D link to the gut and IBD?

Many people think Vitamin deficiency is only to do whether we have enough sunshine- for example, it is much more common in winter months and in certain groups of people.

However, our understanding of Vitamin D also tells us it can be linked to autoimmune diseases and specifically the gut. The vitamin gut council provides a great overview of how vitamin D could be linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease ; explaining that people with the disease are more likely to have a deficiency. But why exactly? Is it a cause or a result?

Well along with steroids being a factor; we might argue that we are less likely to go outside in the sun if we’re unwell (and those on meds may be more likely to cover up and quite rightly slap on the sunscreen) .

However, there are also vitamin D receptors in the gut and immune system- which the vitamin can then bind to.

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Vit D is fat soluble so your digestive tract needs to be able to properly absorb fat to fully absorb vitamin D. If your gut struggles with this, it makes sense it might struggle with Vit D too.

We may also need more of this than others; since Vitamin D also works to lower TNF  in the body (just like Remicade; anyone else’s mind blown by this?) targeting inflammation. Another study worth mentioning is this one explored by CCUK which suggests that IBD patients who are deficient in vit D (estimated at least 30%) need more steroids and have almost double the chance of surgery than IBD patients who aren’t deficient.

Interestingly, vitamin D is also linked to gut bacteria- suggesting it may also be worth considering for those with other gut issues and IBS.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Vit D Deficiency?

It is recommended by the NHS that most people take a vitamin D supplement- especially during the winter months. Of course, you may also wish to speak to your doctor about this and arrange testing too. You can also try to increase your Vit D intake with rich in vitamin d foods such as…

  • Oily fish – Oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are some of the few foods which contain Vitamin D naturally. I also talked in a separate post about how they are rich in omega 3 which again is extremely beneficial for gut health and inflammation. Try to find wild sourced options if possible.
  • Mushrooms are also a source of Vitamin D-blend into soups as a way of minimising gut issues with digestion.
  • Egg yolks contain Vitamin D and are also a great source of protein.

      (Dietary Recommendations Info source: Shona Wilkson at Nature’s Best– lots of info on vitamin D and      other vitamins on there)


I hope this blog post helps! I found this article really interesting to write so if you have any other vitamins or minerals you’d like me to write about, please do let me know. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to check out my blog on how Magnesium is also linked to IBD

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  1. Alexis
    March 7, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    I found this very helpful and easy to understand! Thanks!

  2. Karl Hurd
    March 7, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Interesting article, I have been getting treatment for mal=absorbsion syndrom for the last 20 odd years, have now just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease with small bowel stricture. About 8 months ago they started me on Fultium-D3, though to be honest I don’t really notice anything different but all my blood tests are looking healthier.
    Will try some of your food recommendations and see if that helps.

  3. Lauraine
    October 24, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    I’ve been having some bloods to check my nutritional status ( ileostomy 32 years never any problems, fistula 3 years total nightmare ). I asked my consultant about Vit D and he said as my calcium levels are ok, my Vit D levels would be fine. Is this true ?
    Incidentally my blood tests showed I was deficient in zinc, any ideas on that one.
    Never had any problems before the ileostomy.

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