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Vitamin D Levels, Stress Fractures, and IBS

  Two recent studies found health problems associated with low levels of vitamin D: higher risk of stress fractures and also increased severity of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) symptoms. From Science Daily:

Low levels of vitamin D may increase risk of stress fractures in active individuals

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in ensuring appropriate bone density. Active individuals who enjoy participating in higher impact activities may need to maintain higher vitamin D levels to reduce their risk of stress fractures, report investigators in The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery.

The role of vitamin D in the body has recently become a subject of increasing interest owing to its many physiologic effects throughout multiple organ systems. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that can behave as a hormone. It is obtained through diet and through the skin when exposed to the sun's rays. It is essential for bone development and remodeling to ensure appropriate bone mass density. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, osteomalacia, decreased bone mineral density, and risk of acute fracture.

Investigators tested the serum concentration of 25(OH)D, which is used to determine vitamin D status, in patients with confirmed stress fractures....Using the standards recommended by the Vitamin D Council (sufficient range 40 to 80 ng/mL), more than 80% of these patients would have been classified as having insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels. According to the standards set by the Endocrine Society (sufficient range 30 to 100 ng/mL), over 50% had insufficient levels.

"Based on these findings, we recommend a serum vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/mL to protect against stress fractures, especially for active individuals who enjoy participating in higher impact activities," explained Dr. Miller. "This correlates with an earlier study of 600 female Navy recruits who were found to have a twofold greater risk of stress fractures of the tibia and fibula with a vitamin D level of less than 20 ng/mL compared with females with concentrations above 40 ng/mL.

From Science Daily: Large proportion of IBS sufferers are vitamin D deficient

A large proportion of people living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are vitamin D deficient, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Sheffield discovered a significant association between a patient's vitamin D levels and the severity of their IBS symptoms, particularly the extent to which IBS affects their quality of life.

The study, which is the first of its kind, found that out of 51 IBS patients tested 82 per cent exhibited insufficient vitamin D levels....IBS is a chronic and debilitating functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract which affects around 10-15 per cent of the western population. Little is known about why and how the condition develops, although it is known that diet and stress can make symptoms worse.