Author: Nina Devrnja, PhD in Biology
Together for a strong organism and a balanced intestine: vitamin D and probiotics! Vitamin D (calciferol) is a group of compounds with a similar structure, among which the most important are vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 and D3, are physiologically active forms of vitamin D (called calciferol) that are synthesized in the liver and kidney after our skin absorbs sunlight.
The “sun vitamin” is a fat-soluble vitamin, the precursor of a hormone that the body produces when exposed to sunlight. However, it can also be found in certain foods and supplements . In any case, it is one of the essential vitamins for human health.
The potential health benefits of vitamin D are becoming increasingly apparent. For example, studies suggest that persistent vitamin D deficiency (˂20 ng / ml) is linked to numerous health problems. These include metabolic and autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes or even cancer.
Vitamin D is important for a healthy bowel
Vitamin D is also critical in stimulating the intestines to absorb calcium and phosphorus. These are important for maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles , as calcium can only be absorbed if vitamin D is present. It also maintains the intestinal mucosal barrier. If it is missing, chronic dysbiosis occurs (disturbance of the balance between good and bad bacteria in the intestine) and pathogenic products of the intestinal bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the intestinal lumen.
This also affects normal digestion and creates the conditions for systemic and chronic inflammation. In the long run, this disrupts the function of the immune system, but also neurological processes in the body.
A healthy gut against neurodegenerative diseases
There is often talk of the relationship between gut health , the amount of fiber and vitamin D in the diet, and the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson’s disease. Sufficient sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D. However, the time of year and day, cloud cover, latitude, smog, skin pigmentation and sunscreen are among the factors that influence UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis.
Vitamin D breaks down quite quickly, which means that supplies can run out, especially in winter. There is a lot of evidence and good reasons for adequate vitamin D intake at all stages of life. Important to know: The value of 20 to 30 ng / ml is classified as too low.
Good microorganisms in the intestine = balance for people
Microbiota is a collective term for the microorganisms that live in or on the human body. It is made up of millions of bacteria , fungi, and viruses , of over 1,000 different species. The largest microbiota community lives in the gut. Each person has a unique combination of species that, in a symbiotic relationship, contribute to human benefit.
These microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining the processes in the human organism. The intestinal microbiota develops with us. Any change in this confused and complex community affects the welfare of the host, the individual. Every health disorder of the organism also affects the intestinal microbiota homeostasis.
The gut is often referred to as our second brain. It’s called the enteric nervous system (ENS), with millions of nerve cells lining our gastrointestinal tract. Researchers found evidence that this system communicates with our brain and triggers changes in our physical and emotional health. This creates a strong connection between digestion and our emotional balance.
What are the benefits of probiotics?
The use of probiotics for wellness has a long history. The benefits are mainly attributed to the antimicrobial substances produced by probiotic bacteria. They protect the host from toxins, thereby changing the profile and functions of the gut microbiome.
According to the guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotic organisms used in food should be able to survive passage through the digestive tract. They have the ability to reproduce and colonize the intestines and to withstand gastric and biliary juices.
Bacillus subtilis: A bacterium that works in the intestines
Bacillus subtilis is a Gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium with numerous properties that differ from vegetative cells. Its spores are extremely resistant to high temperatures and tolerate a wide pH range. That makes them an excellent probiotic candidate. These properties allow Bacillus subtilis to be stable and to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. There it can develop its beneficial effects efficiently.
Vitamin D and probiotics work synergistically
Recent research and published studies suggest health benefits of taking probiotics and vitamin D together. There are numerous studies that suggest a synergistic effect of vitamin D and probiotics on many metabolic disorders. The basis of this synergism is based on the action of the probiotic, which increases vitamin D levels (2) and improves the expression of vitamin D receptors (3).
Vitamin D receptors are located on the surface of intestinal epithelial cells, especially in the large intestine. In addition, recent research shows that vitamin D and its receptor protect the probiotics. The vitamin D receptor plays an important role in the action of probiotics in protecting against inflammation and infection.
Study: Vitamin D & Probiotics Make You Happy!
A study was recently published in the Journal of Ovarian Research indicating that vitamin D and probiotics co-supplementation has positive effects on mental health and hormonal, inflammatory, and oxidative stress parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) ( 1).
A study published in Nature Genetics in 2016 (4) indicates that the human vitamin D receptor is the most important factor in shaping the gut microbiome. Research also showed the effects of vitamin D and probiotics on mental health. This randomized, placebo-controlled study in chronic schizophrenia patients (5) showed that probiotic and vitamin D had improved effects on general and metabolic profile for 12 weeks.
The combined probiotic and vitamin D supplementation also showed positive metabolic effects in women with gestational diabetes (GDM), according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study of 87 women with GDM (6).
Vitamin D & Probiotics in Diet
Foods that naturally contain vitamin D are oily fish (salmon, tuna, etc.), fish liver oils, beef liver, egg yolks, soy, almond and oat milk and mushrooms. Probiotics, on the other hand, can be found in yogurt, kefir, kimchi or other fermented foods. But sometimes food isn’t enough! Many people do not have a balanced diet or their diet does not provide them with all the nutrients they need. This is especially important in the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight and a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables.
According to the definition in Directive 2002/46 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, a food supplement is a food that is intended to supplement a normal diet. It is a concentrated source of nutrients or other substances with nutritional or physiological effects. It can be used alone or in combination, whereby the nutrients can be vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts and other ingredients.
- Ostadmohammadi V, Jamilian M, Bahmani F, Asemi Z. Vitamin D and probiotic co-supplementation affects mental health, hormonal, inflammatory and oxidative stress parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Ovarian Res . 2019 Jan 21; 12 (1): 5. doi: 10.1186 / s13048-019-0480-x. PMID: 30665436; PMCID: PMC6340184.
- Jones ML, Martoni CJ, Prakash S. Oral supplementation with probiotic L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 increases mean circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D: a post hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab . 2013 Jul; 98 (7): 2944-51.
- Shang M, Sun J. Review Vitamin D / VDR, Probiotics, and Gastrointestinal Diseases. Curr Med Chem. 2017; 24 (9): 876-887 .
- Wang J, Thingholm Louise B, Skiecevičienė Jurgita, Rausch Philipp, Kummen Martin, Hov Johannes R, Degenhardt Frauke, Heinsen Femke-Anouska, Rühlemann Malte C, Szymczak Silke, Holm Kristian, Esko Tönu, Sun Jun, Pricop-Jeckstad Mihaela, Al -Dury Samer, Bohov Pavol, Bethune Jörn, Sommer Felix, Ellinghaus David, Berge Rolf K, Hübenthal Matthias, Koch Manja, D’Amato Mauro, Cloppenborg-Schmidt Katja, Künzel Sven, Laudes Matthi-as, Marshal Hanns-Ulrich, Lieb Wolfgang, Nöthlings Ute, Karlsen Tom H, Baines John F, Franke Andre. Genome-wide host-microbiota association analysis of 1,812 individuals identifies vitamin D receptor genetic variation and other host factors shaping the gut microbiota. Nature Genetics . 2016; Manuscript Number: NG-A43458.
- Ghaderi A, Banafshe HR, Mirhosseini N. et al. Clinical and metabolic response to vitamin D plus probiotic in schizophrenia patients. BMC Psychiatry 19, 77; 2019. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2059-x
- Jamilian M, Amirani E, Asemi Z. The effects of vitamin D and probiotic co-supplementation on glucose homeostasis, inflammation, oxidative stress and pregnancy outcomes in gestational diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clinical Nutrition, 2019; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2018.10.028
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