Healthy Living

Vitamin A Linked to Severe Inflammation of the Gut

Vitamin A Linked to Severe Inflammation of the Gut

Inflammation makes it more difficult for the body to absorb the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that it needs in order to function properly. For this reason, it is common for individuals with IBD to experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

The following factors could lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in people with IBD:

  • You may be on a restricted diet and unable to receive the proper vitamins and minerals that you need from food.
  • You may have undergone surgery to remove portions of your large and small intestines, making it more difficult to absorb vitamins and minerals.
  • You may suffer from a damaged gastrointestinal tract that makes absorption of vitamins and minerals much more difficult.
  • You may suffer from bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, which makes you lose vitamins and minerals more easily.
  • You may suffer from chronic diarrhea that is causing you to lose vitamins and minerals when relieving yourself.
  • You may be taking certain medications that increase your chances of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

The symptoms that vitamin and mineral deficiencies present vary from individual to individual, depending on the quantity and location of the damage caused within the body. You may experience no symptoms at all or you may experience extremely severe symptoms. This generally depends on which vitamin or mineral you are deficient in, as a result of your individual case of IBD. Many experts agree that specific groups of individuals can benefit from vitamin supplements. “With a huge increase in chronic disease and ill health, medication use, and poor dietary choices, we are seeing many individuals lacking basic nutrition from food. Therefore, a need to supplement while implementing small and incremental healthy changes may be required,” said Amanda Henham, nutritionist.

The link between vitamin A and IBD

Most recently, researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio have found a link between uncontrolled vitamin A metabolism and severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Their findings present significant details associated with the relationship between proper dieting and inflammatory diseases such as IBD. Moreover, they could help healthcare professionals create and deliver nutritional strategies for patients suffering from chronic, inflammatory conditions.

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, offers several medical benefits to the body. It can help enhance your vision in dim light, it can help your immune system fight off infections, it can help prevent inflammation, it can keep your skin and some areas of your body healthy, and it can help prevent cancer. Examples of good sources of vitamin A include cheese, eggs, milk, yogurt, oily fish, liver, and some low-fat spreads. The recommended amount of vitamin A for adults on a daily basis is 0.7mg for men and 0.6mg for women. Vitamin A also includes sources of beta-carotene, which is the reddish-orange pigment that gives certain plants and fruits - such as carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins - their color. Beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in the small intestine and helps provide functional support to several areas of the body. However, some part of the vitamin A remains in the gastrointestinal tract. It is here that the vitamin produces a hormone to stimulate the immune cells to multiply. In turn, the excessive presence of vitamin A levels causes inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. 

Read on to learn more about this discovery and what it means for people living with IBD.