What you need to know about Crohn’s Disease and Vitamin D

Crohn’s Disease is actually part of a group of conditions known collectively as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (or IBD). One of the other primary diseases in this group is known as Ulcerative Colitis, but for now let’s focus on Crohn’s.

Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It can affect any part of the GI tract from the mouth to the anus, but typically affects the small bowel and colon. Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent diarrhea • Rectal bleeding
  • Urgent need to move bowels • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation • Constipation
  • Fever • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss • Fatigue
  • Night sweats • Loss of normal menstrual cycle

Doesn’t sound fun, does it? According to the patients I talk with, it definitely reduces their quality of life. Having to go to the restroom numerous times a day can put a real damper on certain activities and your social life, to say the least!

Crohn’s affects approximately 1 in 350 people in most nations, but what is interesting to me is that they have discovered the disease is more common in northern regions.  In fact, our northern neighbors in Canada have the highest rate of the disease in the world with 1 out of every 150 Canadians affected. This of course begs the question…why?

What comes immediately to mind is the “sunshine vitamin” otherwise known as Vitamin D.  There is increasing evidence of the link between low levels of Vitamin D and many diseases like cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and of course IBD.  People with inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to have low levels of Vitamin D. In fact, some believe the IBD is just a Vitamin D deficiency, although this has not been proven.

Vitamin D is intimately involved in boosting and supporting your immune system. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect which is important when it comes to Crohn’s.

So is the solution to simply swallow large amounts of Vitamin D?  No, as it is possible to take too much and suffer from Vitamin D toxicity. It is rare as by far the majority of people are deficient in this crucial nutrient.  You would have to take very high doses over a period of time to begin suffering symptoms of Vitamin D toxicity, but it usually happens to people that are not under the care of a physician that is testing and monitoring their levels.

If you do suffer from Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, I can’t stress enough the importance of working with a knowledgeable doctor that understands the importance of testing Vitamin D levels and other factors. Although current medical wisdom claims that Crohn’s is incurable, it most definitely can be “reversed” and symptoms eliminated or at the very least reduced.

Call our clinic if you’d like to find out more about our testing and health programs related to digestive problems. I have a “gut feeling” you will be glad you did!