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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Crohn's Disease: Diet and Nutrition

Crohn's and Diet Supplements

You may need to boost your diet with vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements. Talk to your doctor first. Most likely, your doctor will suggest a daily multivitamin and other supplements to help replace:

  • B Vitamins. Crohn's can make you low in B12. And some Crohn's drugs make it hard for your body to absorb folate, a type of B vitamin.
  • Vitamin D. You may not get enough vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium and keep strong bones. One source is sunlight, so if you don't get outside often or live in the far north part of the U.S., you're more likely to be missing it.
  • Iron. Inflamed tissue in your body can cause bleeding, which can deplete iron.
  • Potassium. Diarrhea and some corticosteroid drugs can lower your stores of this mineral.
  • Magnesium: Chronic diarrhea, having Crohn's in your small intestine, or having much of your intestine removed can make it hard to get enough magnesium.
  • Calcium. You may be short on this if you can't eat dairy foods or your body doesn't absorb them well. Long-term use of corticosteroids can also cause bone loss.

In some serious cases, your doctor may suggest you get a nutrient-rich supplement via a feeding tube that leads from your nose to your stomach. This is usually done in the hospital.

Can Probiotics Help?

When the balance between helpful and harmful bacteria in your gut is thrown off -- say, when you take an antibiotic -- it can cause diarrhea and other problems. Probiotics are "friendly" bacteria that help keep harmful bacteria in check. Researchers are looking at whether they can help ease Crohn's symptoms and help people stay free of flares.

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Reviewed on November 17, 2014

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