Photo illustrating a healthy gut
More and more evidence is pointing to the importance of a healthy gut in helping us to absorb nutrients more fully

Probiotic supplement improves vitamin D absorption

20 June, 2013

Natural Health News — New research suggests that the daily supplementation of a probiotic may significantly boost vitamin D levels circulating in the blood.

We get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure – which is why it is sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that aids the absorption of calcium and phosphate, which keep bones and teeth healthy.

A deficiency of vitamin D can cause rickets and other musculoskeletal diseases, but recent research also links vitamin D deficiency to some forms of cancer, autoimmune and infectious diseases, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism claims to be the  first human data to show a link between the supplementation of a probiotic and levels of vitamin D.

First human evidence

Commenting on the study lead author Dr Mitchell Jones, said:

“Although it has long been known that the gastrointestinal tract plays an active role in the absorption of vitamin D, these findings showing improved vitamin D status in response to an orally delivered probiotic are a first, and will inform the development of new products that may be beneficial for people with low vitamin D levels.”

Mitchell and his team analysed data from a placebo-controlled, randomised, multicentre trial involving 127 adult participants, who were randomly assigned to either a placebo or the L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 probiotic strain for nine weeks. The results showed that the probiotic group showed 25.5% higher levels of vitamin D in the blood stream.

The researchers suggested that if the probiotic strain was administered alongside a vitamin D supplement, they would see even greater increases in absorption levels.

Gut health is vital

A minor caution: the analysis was performed by a company, Micropharma Ltd, owned in part by French dairy company Danone, which makes probiotic supplements. However, its findings are  certainly in line with previous research showing that a healthy gut can improve digestion and aid the absorption of nutrients.

Previous evidence has shown, for example, that probiotcs can aid the absorption of minerals and other nutrients and this in turn might be beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight.