Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver. Its main purpose is to promote the absorption of calcium and strengthen bones. Only recently are experts discovering far-reaching effects of a vitamin D deficiency, including higher risk for cancer, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and more. Ordinary bloating occurs when food breaks down or from swallowing air. Bloating as a symptom of another condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, may have a link to a nutritional deficiency.
About Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency affects about 50 percent of people worldwide and roughly 75 percent of Americans, according to “Scientific American” magazine. Minorities are at even higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency. In addition to bone mineralization, the nutrient is partly responsible for cell growth, muscular and immune system function. In the liver, vitamin D is converted into calcitriol, which is the main circulating form of the nutrient. Calcitriol is a hormone that is very active in the intestines.
Bloating is a sensation that most people experience at some point. UpToDate reports that most adults produce up to 3 pints of gas per day, which either passes through the anus in the form of flatulence or the mouth as a burp. Painful bloating could be a symptom of a medical condition. Lactose intolerance is characterized by the inability to digest a major sugar in dairy products, causing increased gas and painful bloating. People with diabetes can experience decreased activity in the intestines, which can cause bloating and gas. People with irritable bowel syndrome are often sensitive to gas. Dyspepsia, which affects about 25 percent of Americans, is a term for persistent abdominal discomfort.
Vitamin D Link
Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with certain digestive diseases. People with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, and Crohn’s disease are more likely to become deficient in the nutrient, say experts who presented their findings at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in 2008. Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin analyzed the prevalence of a vitamin D deficiency in IBD patients and found that 50 percent were deficient at some point and 11 percent had severely low levels. Further, patients with Crohn’s disease who were vitamin D deficient had a worse quality of life compared to those who had normal levels of the nutrient. Most chronic liver disease patients also have low levels of vitamin D, says University of Tennessee researchers from the same conference. Bloating is a symptom of these intestinal disorders.
Simply increasing vitamin D intake won’t necessarily reverse your deficiency, says Michael Holick, M.D., a Bone Health Care Clinic director at Boston University Medical Center. However, “anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of patients benefit by correcting their vitamin D deficiency,” according to a 2008 interview with Holick in “Alternative Therapies.” His recommendation is to take 50,000 IU of the vitamin once a week for two months and every other week thereafter. In Holick’s experience, prescription therapeutic supplementation of this kind can return blood serum levels of the vitamin to normal. While you can get an over-the-counter vitamin D supplement, Holick suggests that a prescription from your physician has better compliancy rates. After two or three months, you may experience a feeling of overall well-being.
- "Scientific American"; Vitamin D Deficiency Soars in the U.S.; March 2009
- Colorado State University: Vitamin D (Calcitriol); April 2010
- UptoDate: Gas and Bloating; May 2011
- "ScienceDaily"; Vitamin D Deficiency Common in Patients with IBD, Chronic Liver Disease; October 2008
- Crohn’s and Colitis UK Information Sheet: Managing Bloating and Wind
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: What I Need to Know About Cirrhosis; October 2010