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Vitamins and Supplements for Ulcerative Colitis

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Food Supplements for Ulcerative Colitis continued...

But even with a well-designed meal plan, you may still need some of the following supplements:

Vitamin D . Your body needs vitamin D to maintain strong bones. It also plays a role in how your immune system functions. Low levels of vitamin D are common among the general adult population.

If you have ulcerative colitis, especially if you take steroids, your risk of a vitamin D deficiency -- along with the accompanying risk of osteoporosis -- is very high. This risk is compounded by the fact that many people with ulcerative colitis restrict the amount of dairy products they consume to help reduce diarrhea, yet dairy foods are good sources for vitamin D.

Ask your doctor if you should be taking a vitamin D supplement. Experts differ in their recommendations for vitamin D supplementation, so talk to your doctor about the best option for you.

Calcium. Calcium is the mineral the body uses to build bones. Your body also uses it in other ways, such as helping muscles contract or sending messages through the nervous system. If your system does not have enough calcium, the body removes it from the bones, causing them to become brittle and leading to the development of osteoporosis.

Avoiding dairy products, along with the effect various medicines have on calcium, makes a calcium deficiency a strong possibility with ulcerative colitis. If your doctor recommends taking a calcium supplement, you'll probably need 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day.

Iron. People with ulcerative colitis can lose iron through bleeding from the sores in the colon. Not having enough iron can lead to anemia. A lack of iron means your body can't make enough healthy red blood cells to transport an adequate supply of oxygen throughout your body. With anemia you may feel tired a lot, have a fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, problems thinking, and other symptoms. Your doctor can tell if you have an iron deficiency with a blood test. If you do, the doctor will probably recommend you take an iron supplement.

Folate or folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that your body needs to make healthy new cells. In women, it also protects against birth defects of the baby's spine or brain. Folic acid can also reduce the risk of colon cancer, which is elevated in people with ulcerative colitis.

People with UC often find it difficult to tolerate folate-rich dark leafy vegetables and may end up with low levels of the vitamin. Those levels can be made even lower as a result of certain medications. Ask your doctor if you should be taking a folic acid supplement.

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