7 Helpful Vitamins for People with Crohn's Disease
If you have Crohn's disease, it's likely you struggle with getting proper nutrition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet whenever possible is an important step for staying healthy. But you may need to add supplements to your diet, too.
In addition to a general multivitamin, below are vitamins and supplements that people with Crohn's disease commonly take. Before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet, first talk with your doctor or dietitian.
Close to 70 percent of people with Crohn's disease are thought to be vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important because it helps metabolize calcium and is important for bone health. Many people with Crohn's disease take vitamin D supplements in liquid form instead of pill form because the body tends to absorb it better that way.
Low levels of calcium can be closely tied to deficiencies in vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium. It can also occur alone. Oftentimes, people with Crohn's disease are lactose intolerant and avoid calcium-rich dairy foods. Others aren't able to absorb calcium because of disease or surgery of the small intestine. Long-term use of prednisone can also interfere with calcium absorption and increase calcium loss from bones.
Getting enough calcium is important for bone health. Aim to take 500 mg of calcium, three times a day. It's important to break up your daily calcium intake because too much calcium can't be absorbed by the body all at once.
Inflammation or surgery in the lower part of the small intestine is common among people with Crohn's disease. But both can cause problems with the absorption of vitamin B 12 in either food or supplement form. To avoid vitamin B 12 deficiency, which can interfere with the creation of new red blood cells and affect the nervous system, talk with your doctor about getting a monthly injection of the vitamin.
Taking the drug sulfasalazine, which is a common treatment for Crohn's disease, may increase the risk for folic acid deficiency. Sulfasalazine can hinder the body from absorbing folic acid, which helps the body create healthy new cells. Taking a daily folate tablet can help.
Low iron levels, a common cause of anemia, can result from blood loss caused by inflammation of the colon. Iron supplements in liquid or tablet form can provide additional iron, an important nutrient for blood cell function.
Deficiencies in potassium can occur if you take prednisone or suffer from chronic diarrhea. Potassium is an electrolyte vital for the functioning of virtually all the cells, tissues, and organs in your body. Potassium supplements are available in tablet and powder form.
Like potassium deficiency, low amounts of magnesium can stem from chronic diarrhea. It can also be caused by inflammation or surgery of the small intestine. Magnesium helps many functions of the body, including the ability of the muscles to contract and relax. If you are deficient in magnesium, you may need to take magnesium oxide supplements.
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- Diet and Nutrition. Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Updated June 2011. http://www.ccfa.org/info/diet
- Learn More About Vitamin B12 Deficiency. CDC. Updated August 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/VitaminB12
- Potassium in Diet. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health.Updated August 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002413.htm
- Magnesium in Diet. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Updated August 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002423.htm
- Folic Acid. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Updated April 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/folicacid.html
- Iron. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Updated November 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/iron.html