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Vitamins for Crohn's Disease

In Crohn's disease, damage to the digestive tract, can make it hard for the body to absorb nutrients. The good news is that many people with Crohn's disease can get what they need from their diet and a daily multivitamin. Still, people with Crohn's should be on the look-out for shortages in vitamins and minerals, which can vary depending on the amount and location of damage in the body. Here are some vitamins you should take if you have this disease.

1. Iron

Crohn's disease can cause bleeding in the intestines resulting in a loss of hemoglobin, which are red blood cells carrying lots of iron, and anemia which is a red blood cell deficiency. Fatigue, headaches and pale skin are all signs of anemia. To address this deficiency, iron can be taken as a supplement, 8 to 27 milligrams one to three times a day.

2. Vitamin B12

Crohn's disease can damage the ileum, the lower part of the intestine necessary for vitamin B12 absorption. B12 deficiencies can manifest as weakness, fatigue, light-headedness, and megaloblastic anemia (larger-than-normal red blood cells). In extreme cases, it can damage the nerves, resulting in tingling or numbness in fingers and toes and difficulty walking. If you have a true B12 deficiency, supplements won't be enough. Instead, you may need a once-a-month shot.

3. Calcium

People suffering from Crohn's disease often have a calcium deficiency because their bodies cannot absorb the nutrient. This is compounded by the fact that lactose intolerance is extremely common. Treatment with corticosteroids also depletes the body of calcium as well as having persistent active inflammation. This type of deficiency increases the risk of early onset osteoporosis, therefore Crohn's disease patients benefit from being on calcium and vitamin D supplementation to keep their bones strong.

4. Folic acid

Folic acid is another B vitamin and it's essential for forming new cells. Folic acid is especially critical in pregnant women to prevent birth defects. But the drugs sulfasalazine and methotrexate can cause deficiencies. The CCFA recommends that people taking sulfasalazine, in particular, fortify themselves with 1 milligram of folate a day as a supplement.

5. Magnesium

Diarrhea is a major feature of inflammatory bowel disease and is a defence mechanism of the body in response to inflammation and infection. Sufferers with excessive, watery diarrhea can find their bodies deprived of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium is crucial for a variety of body processes, including keeping the heart, muscles, and kidneys in good working order. Symptoms of a deficiency can include anxiety, difficulty sleeping, nausea and vomiting and restless legs syndrome.

6. Vitamin D

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 as well. 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.

7. Potassium

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.

Don't make the supplements decision by yourself. It’s important to talk to your doctor first. While they can help you be better nourished, some can affect the way your Crohn's drugs work, or make your symptoms worse. He may want to test your levels of iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 as well as other vitamins and minerals. What you need may also depend on where the damage is in your intestines. Together, you can decide which supplements could help you feel better.