10 Vitamins You May Need if You Have Crohn's

Crohn's disease is an autoimmune disease that can damage parts of the entire digestive tract. Though there is no cure for the condition, which is an inflammatory bowel disease with symptoms that can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.

Anti-inflammatories and immune-suppressing drugs can help treat flare-ups.


Getting enough iron in your diet can be tough. Worse yet, a deficiency can be hard to spot. Some signs include exhaustion, heavy periods, and shortness of breath.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps your body produce DNA and red blood cells, supports your immune system, and encourages healthy nerve function. Watch the video to learn which foods are high in this essential nutrient.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another B vitamin and it's essential for forming new cells.

Folic acid is especially critical in pregnant women to prevent birth defects. But the drugs sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) and methotrexate can cause deficiencies.

The CCFA recommends that people taking sulfasalazine, in particular, fortify themselves with 1 milligram of folate a day as a supplement.


Watch the video to learn which foods are high in calcium.


"Diarrhea is a common symptom of Crohn's disease and people with excessive, watery diarrhea can find their bodies deprived of magnesium and potassium," says Nirmal Kaur, MD, Medical Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

The mineral is critical for a variety of body processes, including keeping the heart, muscles, and kidneys in good working order. Symptoms of a deficiency can include anxiety, difficulty sleeping, nausea and vomiting and restless legs syndrome.


"Prolonged diarrhea can also deplete zinc reserves. And a zinc deficiency can lead to more diarrhea, creating a 'vicious cycle'," says Dr. DeCross.

This type of deficiency is rare, though children may be at greater risk. A 2011 study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics found that children recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease had lower zinc levels than their healthy counterparts.

Zinc deficiency can result in slowed growth, loss of appetite, and can also compromise the immune system.

Vitamin A

People whose lower intestines have been damaged or removed due to Crohn's disease may have difficulty absorbing vitamin A. More commonly, though, deficiencies may occur if Crohn's has resulted in any obstruction of the intestine. The ileum usually has a small population of bacteria.

"When the intestine is blocked, however, fluid can stagnate, causing a 'festival' of bacteria," says Dr. DeCross. "The bacteria will compete for and consume vitamin A," he says.

Vitamin D

The main source of vitamin D is sunlight, but it's not impossible to get more in your diet. Watch this video for the 5 foods you can eat to get this essential nutrient, which helps build strong bones, a healthy immune system, and more.

Vitamin E

Another casualty of damage to the ileum is vitamin E, known for its antioxidant properties. Symptoms can include tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes (known as peripheral neuropathy) and muscle weakness.

Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals. But people with Crohn's may need water-soluble forms of vitamin E, such as tocopheryl polyethylene glycol-1000 succinate.

Vitamin K

If you're looking to add more superfoods to your diet, this quinoa, kale, and avocado bowl is the tastiest way to do it. Thanks to all the healthy ingredients, this dish delivers major nutrients (and flavor, too).

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles