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Research1 suggests that the daily supplementation of a probiotic may boost vitamin D levels circulating in the blood by 25%. Vitamin D, known as the 'sunshine' vitamin, has some very important actions in the body including:
A deficiency of vitamin D can cause rickets and other musculoskeletal diseases, but vitamin D deficiency has been linked to some forms of cancer2, autoimmune and infectious diseases3, type 2 diabetes4, and cardiovascular disease5. This research has shown a positive correlation to public awareness of the health benefits of vitamin D, as vitamin D is one of the most popular food supplements.
A study, published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, was the first of its kind to show a link between the supplementation of a probiotic and levels of vitamin D. The study's lead author, Dr Mitchell Jones, commented:
"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."
The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, parallel-arm, multi-centre trial involved 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 significantly higher levels of vitamin D in the blood stream.
Researchers also surmised that if the probiotic strain was administered alongside a vitamin D supplement, they would see even greater increases in absorption levels. The researchers concluded, "In short, we believe it is possible that more vitamin D is being absorbed."
Further evidence of the synergy between vitamin D and probiotics has since emerged, and a later review6 of related research to date showed optimism for the use of probiotics and vitamin combinations:
"A combined supplementation with vitamin D and probiotics seems to play a role on the physiological and psychological attributes of the human body, and represents a novel insight in the management of chronic diseases. The findings of this systematic review suggest a superiority of vitamin D and probiotics supplementation over placebo, vitamin D or probiotics alone, and propose a dose-dependent effect."
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