vitamin d probiotics gut health

Take Vitamin D & Probiotics For A Healthy Gut

Vitamin D and Probiotics are two supplements that get a lot of attention for health and performance. New research shows vitamin D and probiotics protect gut health, working synergistically to help you absorb nutrients and rev your immune system.

Vitamin D and Probiotics Work Together For Gut Health

News flash: Vitamin D and the healthy probiotic bacteria in your gut work together like best pals to optimize health. If your gut isn’t working like clockwork, you’re much more likely to be at risk of low vitamin D. A poorly functioning gut impairs intestinal absorption of vitamin D from food or supplements. Even people who live in sunny winter climates are at risk of vitamin D deficiency because gut problems lower the body’s natural ability to produce vitamin D.

Meanwhile, low vitamin D affects the health of your gut. If your levels are low, GI function goes south. It’s a problem that can spiral out of control because vitamin D effects the healthy bacteria that protect your GI tract.

Understanding The Microbiome

Your gut is considered an organ that is a key driver of human health and disease. When there is an imbalance of harmful bacteria, many bad things can happen:

The intestinal layer can become impaired, leading food or other components that act as toxins in the blood stream.

Vitamin and mineral absorption is reduced, leading to malnutrition.

Immune function plummets and disease-fighting immune cells are less active.

Metabolic health and glucose tolerance is lower.

Neurotransmitters are decreased, lowering mood, cognition, and the ability to manage stress.

There is an increased risk of many disorders including obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, cardiovascular disease, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Probiotics are live bacteria with health-promoting effects that serve as a go-to for improving gut health. Research supports their use to reestablish homeostasis in the gut, improve intestinal barrier integrity, and lower inflammation that damages cells.

Understanding Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is critical for human survival. It is made by the skin from cholesterol in response to UV radiation in sunlight. Best known as a vitamin that impacts the skeletal system, vitamin D has wide-ranging health effects due to its hormone-like actions.

In addition to impacting the body’s ability to rebuild and maintain bone over the lifespan, vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of inflammatory diseases, impacting the function of the heart and blood vessels.

Having adequate vitamin D is consistently linked with a better quality of life and lower risk of all-cause mortality. Vitamin D also has metabolic effects, supporting insulin sensitivity, thyroid function, muscle strength, physical performance, and cardiovascular and neurological health.

Better Together: Vitamin D & Probiotics Promote Gut Health

Investigations into the dual benefits of vitamin D and probiotics began five years ago based on theories of how vitamin D affects healthy bacteria in the gut and vice versa.

One of the hottest areas of probiotic and vitamin D research is the gut-brain connection and how the microbiome affects cognitive function and mood. Gut bacteria also affect mental status: As much as 70 percent of the mood regulators serotonin and GABA being produced in the GI tract. Meanwhile, vitamin D upregulates expression of tyrosine, which is a key stimulating amino acid for the brain. It also increases bioavailability of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine that affect motivation, self-control, and energy.

This led to five studies showing that taking vitamin D and probiotics together produced greater health benefits than either a placebo or vitamin D on its own. In all studies, the supplement was 50,000 IUs of vitamin D every two weeks with probiotics daily):

In a study of men with schizophrenia, co-supplementation reduced symptoms of schizophrenia and improved metabolic health by increasing insulin sensitivity and raising antioxidant capacity compared to a placebo.

In a trial of women with mild bone loss (osteopenia), co-supplementation improved markers of bone health compared to a placebo or taking vitamin D with calcium.

A study of women with PCOS who co-supplemented showed improved mental health and lower scores of depression, anxiety, and stress compared to a placebo.

Men with type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease who co-supplemented improved mental health, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, antioxidant capacity, and cholesterol compared to a placebo group.

A study of pregnant women with gestational diabetes who co-supplemented showed better glucose control, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol compared to vitamin D alone. After birth, their babies had fewer health complications and hospitalizations.

Recommendations For Using Vitamin D and Probiotics For Gut Health

Identifying the optimal dose of vitamin D is critical. Supplementation is often too low to raise blood levels to normal, let alone optimal. When adequate sun exposure is lacking, 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day is required to bring serum levels to 30 ng/mL (considered adequate) in 50 percent of the general population.

Treatment of vitamin D deficiency in otherwise healthy patients with 2,000 to 7,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day should be sufficient to maintain year-round serum levels between 40-70 ng/ml.

You may need more vitamin D if you are treating a chronic disease, are older, or have darker skin. For example, older adults are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency partly because the body produces less D in response to the sun. One study found a 75 percent reduction in vitamin D synthesis from sunlight in older adults.

When choosing a probiotic, opt for one with research showing benefits from the specific strains. Look for products with at least 15 billion colony forming units (CFUs) per capsule. 1 CFU is equal to 1 bacterium capable of dividing and forming colonies. To ensure your product is alive when you take it look for the following:

  • A product that is guaranteed alive through the expiration date.
  • A product that is designed to survive the journey through the stomach so that it will reach the target tissue in the intestinal tract alive.
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