IBD and the Risk of Nutrient Deficiencies

If you have IBD (irritable bowel disease), you may have an increased risk of developing certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In fact, studies show even those with mild IBD can develop nutrient deficiencies. And, you definitely do not want any vitamin or mineral deficiency left untreated since they could lead to several problems such as anemia, brittle bones and delayed wound healing.

Chronic inflammation and medications for IBD are both contributing factors that can impair the absorption of certain nutrients. And though doctors don’t have any specific accepted guidelines to follow for assessing vitamin and mineral deficiencies in IBD patients, they can look for typical signs and symptoms of deficiency and rely on your assessment of your health.

WedMD has helpful information for sufferers of IBD at http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/eating-plan-for-inflammatory-bowel-disease.

They mention to stay aware of the following:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease can make it hard to get the nutrients you need.
  • It is important to eat a healthy, varied diet to help you keep your weight up and stay strong.
  • Some foods can make symptoms worse. Not eating these foods may help reduce your symptoms.
  • No one diet is right for everyone with an inflammatory bowel disease. Keep a food diary to find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients.
  • Because you may not be absorbing all the nutrients from the food you eat, you will need to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. This may be easier to do if you eat regular meals plus 2 or 3 snacks each day.
  • You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to help you get the nutrients you need.

According to some physicians, folate, iron and vitamin D should be assessed annually in all IBD patients regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms of deficiency. In addition, patients with a history of anemia should have a full iron panel, folate and B12 assessed while those with osteopenia and osteoporosis should have their vitamin D monitored regularly.

If you are an IBD patient, ask your physician about specific tests you should take for vitamins and minerals. In addition, talk to your doctor about how to treat or prevent nutrient deficiencies and which supplements or prescription medications may be best if you do have a deficiency. Some physicians may recommend liquid dietary supplements because they are easy to take and absorb. In other instances you may need a prescription dose of a particular vitamin or an intramuscular injection.

Guest Post Provided by Marie Spano, MS, RD

References:            Inflamm. Bowel Dis. 2012;18:1961-1981.