Posted by ImproveCareNow on April 29, 2014
[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in CIRCLE January 2012]
Kids with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis often have low levels of vitamin D. How does that happen? When you are not feeling well, you don't eat as well. If you don't eat foods supplemented with vitamin D, it could lead to a vitamin D deficiency. You put sun screen on to prevent skin cancer (a good thing to do), but sun screen also blocks the ultraviolet rays that stimulate your body to make vitamin D. Some patients with Crohn's disease have inflammation in the part of the intestine that absorbs vitamin D into the body, so some of the vitamin D eaten goes right through without being absorbed.
Vitamin D is important for bone growth, bone density and bone strength, and for growth itself. So getting enough vitamin D is especially important for growing kids. Vitamin D also appears to have other health benefits.
How much is enough vitamin D? Recently recommendations have changed-more vitamin D is recommended now than before: 600 units a day (instead of 400) for kids 1 to 18 years old. For patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, sometimes more may be necessary, such as 800 or 1,000 or more units per day. (Caution: excessive intake of vitamin D can be harmful.) Ask your clinician or dietician what the right amount is for you.
How do you get enough vitamin D? A daily multivitamin supplement usually has 400 units per tablet so that's a good place to start. Vitamin D tablets are also available. Milk and yogurt are fortified with vitamin D, usually about 100 units per serving. Some orange juice is fortified with vitamin D.
To absorb vitamin D into your body, it has to be bound to some fat. So when you take your vitamin D supplement (including skim milk or non-fat yogurt) be sure to eat food with fat at the same time, for example, at least 2 or 3 teaspoons of peanut butter, or margarine or oil.
No bones about it! Get your daily vitamin D. For more information click here.
Richard Colletti, MD
Network Director, ImproveCareNow