Crohn’s disease is a bowel condition that causes inflammation along the digestive tract. It can cause malnutrition, so doctors may prescribe vitamins and supplements to prevent or treat this issue.
Crohn’s disease typically causes symptoms to occur in cycles. People with the condition might experience episodes of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms that come and go.
A doctor may recommend avoiding certain foods to allow the digestive system to rest during these episodes. Some people may need to begin a special diet, such as a diet low in fiber.
These dietary changes or the reduced absorption of nutrients through the digestive tract can cause malnutrition. For this reason, doctors may recommend supplementing the diet to treat or prevent malnutrition.
This article examines some of the vitamins and supplements that people with Crohn’s disease might wish to take, how they may affect the body, and other dietary considerations.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that usually starts in childhood or early adulthood.
The condition causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which leads to symptoms including:
Symptoms tend to come and go in cycles. Treatments for Crohn’s disease include medication, bowel rest, and surgery. The type of treatment a person receives will depend on how severe the condition is and their overall health.
Changing one’s diet can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. A doctor may recommend:
- avoiding carbonated beverages
- avoiding some high fiber foods
- drinking more liquids
- eating smaller meals more frequently to aid digestion
Inflammation in the digestive tract can make it difficult for the body to process food and absorb nutrients. This can result in malnutrition, which occurs when the body is not getting enough essential vitamins and nutrients.
A doctor may recommend blood tests to check vitamin and mineral levels in the body. With these results, the doctor might recommend taking various types of vitamins or supplements to improve nutrition in the diet.
A person with Crohn’s disease should make the choice to start taking vitamins in consultation with a doctor to ensure the correct types and amounts.
Some vitamins can cause side effects, including nausea and diarrhea. Taking them with food can prevent these from occurring.
Always check supplement labels for ingredients that may cause flare-ups. Such ingredients may include:
- artificial colors
- sugar alcohols
Doctors might recommend a variety of vitamins for people with Crohn’s disease. These vitamins may include:
- omega-3 fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory effects in people with Crohn’s disease
- calcium, which can help maintain bone and tooth health in people with Crohn’s disease
- folic acid, which helps the body produce and maintain cells
- iron, which carries oxygen through the body and prevents anemia
- vitamin B12, which maintains nerve and blood cells
- vitamin D, which may help control inflammation in the intestine
- vitamins A, E, and K, which help produce cells and prevent cell damage
- zinc, which assists the body in preventing illnesses due to bacteria and viruses
In addition to vitamins, turmeric could help reduce inflammation in the bodies of people with Crohn’s disease. It contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Some small studies suggest that curcumin combined with medications can help in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, which is another type of IBD. People can safely use turmeric in cooking, but consuming large amounts can thin the blood.
Malnutrition is a common concern with Crohn’s disease. In fact, it occurs in as many as 20–85% of cases.
Identifying foods that a person can tolerate and those that trigger symptoms is key to creating a dietary plan for someone with Crohn’s disease.
To prevent flare-ups, people with Crohn’s disease may wish to limit their intake of:
- foods high in insoluble fiber
- nuts and seeds
- raw fruits and vegetables
- high fat foods
- sugar alcohols
Drinking plenty of liquids and eating smaller meals more frequently may aid digestion. Also, keeping a food diary can help a person identify foods that bring on symptoms.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that typically requires lifelong treatment and dietary changes.
A person should contact a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- blood in the stool
- persistent diarrhea
- ongoing stomach cramps or pain
- unexplained weight loss
- not developing at a typical rate (in children)
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect any part of the digestive tract. It generally affects the small intestine, causing inflammation that prevents food from digesting correctly. It causes a range of symptoms, including diarrhea and stomach pains.
Crohn’s disease can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients correctly, which may lead to malnutrition. A doctor can diagnose nutrient deficiencies using blood tests. They may recommend various vitamins and supplements to address these problems.
Some vitamins can cause side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea. However, taking vitamins in their recommended amounts and while eating can help minimize these side effects.