Since Crohn's disease decreases the body's ability to absorb nutrients, a daily multivitamin is mandatory for anyone with this condition. In fact, nutritional deficiencies are so common with Crohn's that you probably need a high-potency vitamin and mineral combination, not just a simple one-a-day tablet. At WholeHealthMD we also recommend adding a daily antioxidant combination with extra C as well.
In some people undiscovered food sensitivities can play a significant role in the intensity of their Crohn's symptoms. A strategy you may want to consider is trying a food elimination diet to help you identify specific food triggers that may be aggravating your flare-ups. These often include milk, eggs, corn, and wheat.
All the supplements listed here can be taken together and also in combination with any medications your doctor prescribes for your Crohn's.
How to use the supplements
Taking a daily high-potency multiple vitamin will cover most of the deficiencies commonly noted with Crohn's disease. Especially important in your daily multivitamin formula should be adequate amounts of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and folic acid, so read your labels carefully. However, you most likely will need to add extra vitamin B12 (in an under-the-tongue form) because the part of the small intestine that absorbs B12 is often affected by this disease.
A high-potency antioxidant formula is always a good idea to protect your body from damage caused by altered oxygen molecules called free radicals. Although Crohn's disease is not one of the conditions caused by free-radical damage, the nutritional deficiencies associated with Crohn's may reduce your own antioxidant protection systems, necessitating added supplements, often extra vitamin C.
Both magnesium and zinc deficiencies occur with such regularity in those with Crohn's that daily supplementation is recommended. (Because zinc inhibits copper absorption, you'll need to take extra copper as well.) As a source of the so-called "good fats," flaxseed oil and fish oil, which also has useful anti-inflammatory properties, should be used daily. (To prevent a fish-y aftertaste and to enhance absorption, try to take the enteric-coated fish oil capsules).
Daily supplementation with both quercetin and boswellia, both natural agents to reduce inflammation, may be helpful as a maintenance strategy. The amino acid glutamine can help repair the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract.
And during a flare-up, consider taking an herbal digestive formula, either Robert's Formula or Bastyr Formula; follow the instructions on the bottle, which will suggest using the formula several times a day until a remission occurs.
Instead of colas, coffee, and alcohol, enjoy intestinal-soothing healing teas, such as those made with chamomile and slippery elm.
We at WholeHealthMD strongly recommend that everyone take a high-potency multivitamin/mineral and well-balanced antioxidant complex every day. It may be necessary to adjust the dosages outlined below to account for your own daily vitamin regimen. All of our supplement recommendations also assume you are eating a healthful diet.
Be aware that certain cautions
are associated with taking individual supplements, especially if you have other medical conditions and/or you're taking medications. Key cautions are given in the listing below, but you need to see the WholeHealthMD Reference Library
for a comprehensive discussion of each supplement's cautions and drug/nutrient interactions.