Many people with cystic fibrosis have problems releasing digestive enzymes. This can disrupt the absorption of nutrients from food, causing a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamins support several metabolic processes. They are essential for the function of the human body.
People with cystic fibrosis (CF) may have problems with pancreatic function, which can impair the release of digestive enzymes necessary for nutrient breakdown and absorption. This can potentially lead to vitamin deficiencies.
This article reviews vitamin deficiency in people with CF, its causes, common deficiencies in people with CF, and how to manage a deficiency.
In some cases, people with CF may also have issues absorbing water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B vitamins.
Poor vitamin absorption can happen when the pancreas does not release enzymes necessary for proper digestion, leading to deficiencies. Doctors refer to this as pancreatic insufficiency.
About 85% of people with CF have pancreatic insufficiency. People typically develop it at birth. However, some people may develop pancreatic insufficiency later in life.
People with CF have problems absorbing fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, including:
Additionally, it plays a role in helping the eyes adjust to the dark, preventing nighttime blindness.
This vitamin also helps keep the immune system healthy and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D is also important for muscle, digestive, and lung function.
Vitamin D is vital in managing health conditions in people with CF.
In people with CF, low vitamin D levels
- impaired bone mineralization
- decrease bone mass over time
- lung infection
- decreased lung function
- developing autoimmune conditions
- poor gut health
About 7% of people with CF still experience vitamin D deficiency after receiving appropriate treatment.
Vitamin C has
- fighting free radicals that can damage cells
- supporting collagen production
- protecting the linings of the blood vessels
- reducing inflammation in the body
- energy production
- maintaining skin, heart, and nervous system health
- tissue repair
- red blood cell production
- cell growth and division
- fat metabolization
Low levels of vitamin B-complex
- heart palpitations
This vitamin also has an antioxidant effect.
Low levels of vitamin K can cause a person to bleed and bruise easily, even after a minor trauma.
PERT contains several enzymes, such as:
Lipase is an enzyme that improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which can help treat vitamin A, D, E, and K deficiencies.
A person must take PERT before eating since enzymes usually work for about 45–60 minutes after being taken.
Because CF can cause problems with nutrient absorption, people with the condition may develop vitamin deficiencies.
People with CF often require vitamin supplementation to treat their deficiencies and prevent CF-related complications. A doctor can provide tailored advice and prescribe the right treatment.