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One Major Effect Vitamin D Has On Your Gut, Study Says

This essential vitamin has a significant impact on your body’s health.

At this point, we know that having an adequate intake of vitamin D is essential for our body's health. Vitamin D helps with strengthening your immune system and supports bone health as well as mental health. Recent studies have also shown that vitamin D has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, improved bladder health, and could even lower your risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms. Plus, more studies have also been able to link vitamin D intake and improved gut health!

According to a study in Scientific Reports, 80 healthy females who were consuming an insufficient amount of vitamin D during the day were given 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D per week and found that there was an improved diversity of gut microbiota within participants after 12 weeks.

The study was also able to see improvements in the subject's kidney and liver function, which is linked to increased blood calcium levels in the body (the body uses vitamin D to absorb calcium).

While researchers claim further studies need to be done in order to make a claim for vitamin D among healthy people, the study's link between vitamin D supplementation and diverse gut microbiota is noteworthy.

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Having diverse microbiota in your gut is key for all kinds of healthy bodily functions. The microbiota in your gut consists of trillions of microbes that are essential for your body's metabolic function and warding off infectious diseases. A healthy gut is also linked to your brain, sending off signals through nerves and hormones to help maintain your body's health.

While consuming prebiotics and probiotics are good for upholding your body's gut health, the link between vitamin D supplementation and the diverse gut microbiota is something to pay attention to—especially when you evaluate all the ways having a healthy gut is essential for your body's health.

Another study published in the journal Frontiers of Immunology found a significant link between the gut microbiome and the body's immune system, and how vitamin D consumption is a key marker in the health of both of these functions. Especially for those who deal with inflammatory bowel disease.

It's important to note that the participants of the Scientific Reports study consumed 50,000 IU per week—not per day. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) says you should be getting at least 15 micrograms per day for adults under 70 (600 IU), and 20 micrograms for adults older than 70 (800 IU). The DRI sets 100 micrograms—equivalent to 4,000 IU—as the tolerable upper limit (UL) for each day.

While the intake of study participants is slightly higher than the UL recommended by the DRI, the toxicity of vitamin D is rare for most. However, if you are overconsuming vitamin D regularly, you may experience some ugly side effects that come from developing hypercalcemia—overconsumption of calcium due to significant vitamin D intake.

All in all, the links between vitamin D intake and how it positively affects your gut health and immune system are notable to pay attention to. Exposing your skin to the sun for 5 to 30 minutes twice a week, or consuming foods rich in vitamin D, are both great natural sources for synthesizing this vitamin. However, If you're curious about vitamin D supplementation, talk to your doctor about the right amount to consume for your body.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, with a main focus on food coverage, nutrition, and recipe development. Read more