It’s no secret that low vitamin D levels are often linked to other health problems...but your gut may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, issues in your digestive system could be the first clue of a vitamin D deficiency.
Your gut has its own microbiome – or unique combination of microorganisms that (when balanced) contribute to your body’s overall health. Recent studies on autoimmune diseases in which vitamin D deficiencies are prevalent suggest that there’s a common correlation between vitamin D levels and the health of your gut’s microbiome.
“We need a healthy GI tract to absorb the nutrients that are essential for sustaining and fueling the trillions of cells that comprise our bodies,” says Notch Medical Advisor Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D. “An unhealthy GI tract won't protect us from toxins, pathogens and food triggers, nor will it allow for optimal assimilation of the nutrients we need to thrive.”
What are some symptoms of poor gut health?
Stomach pain, weight fluctuations, fatigue and bloating are all typical signs of an unhealthy gut. Because your body is struggling to process food and eliminate waste, constipation and diarrhea are also common symptoms.
Though leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome are two ailments widely associated with digestive issues, many of these symptoms can also be attributed to undiagnosed food sensitivities. Depending on your diet, there are many different at-home panels you can take – such as Notch's Complete Food Sensitivity Test – to find out where you stand with specific foods and spices. Each kit comes with detailed instructions on how to provide blood spot specimens for testing, which are then returned to the lab for examination. After receiving your results, you’ll likely have a much clearer idea of which foods to avoid.
How do I know if I’m not getting enough vitamin D?
If you’re experiencing joint pain, fatigue, mood swings or weight gain, these could all be signs of insufficient vitamin D levels. However, it’s important to note that vitamin D deficiencies share symptoms with many other common health issues, such as hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia, so make sure to consult with your physician and get professional testing done before you consider treatment methods.
The Notch Vitamin D Test can be done at home and is one of the simplest ways to get the answers you’re looking for. Like the food sensitivity panels, the Vitamin D Test utilizes the blood spot method, simplifying the process on your end. After submitting your sample, you’ll get a detailed overview of your vitamin D levels, ranging from < 20 ng/mL (deficient) to > 100 ng/mL (potential toxicity).
How do I address both issues at once?
There’s no need to think too hard about the chicken or the egg when it comes to vitamin D and your digestive health.
“The concept that a healthy GI tract is foundational to wellness is generally not up for debate," says Meletis. “Following Hippocrates’ tenets of health, let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”
Between supplements and customized nutrition plans, there are many ways you can work to improve vitamin D consumption and gut health. Start by addressing each concern separately with your physician and then working together to diagnose the issue and come up with a treatment plan. Each person is different, but getting some answers is the first step to getting the help (and peace of mind) you need.