Nutrient Deficiencies: Crohn's, IBS/IBD and Colitis
By: Kim Andersen, B.A., C.H., C.K.P.
Crohn's disease is “a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes swelling of the tissues (inflammation) in your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.”1
IBS is a malfunction of the Peristaltic action of the large intestine (colon) resulting in “a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. With IBS, you have these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract.”2 IBS is commonly thought of as a collection of allergies, intolerances and sensitivities to proteins such as lactose (milk) and gluten (grain) and can be rectified with diet changes.5
Colitis is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon).4
Ulcerative colitis is “an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in (the) digestive tract.”3
The primary culprit preventing absorption of vitamins and minerals is the massive amount of inflammation in the colon.13 Couple this condition with an autoimmune condition (overreaction of the immune system) and the result is excessive, chronic inflammation and thus minimal ability of the cellular wall to absorb nutrients.3
There are 7 primary nutrients that are affected. Keep in mind, we are all individuals and this list may be longer for some.
Of the 7 nutrients, 5 are vitamins, D, B12 and B9 (folate) and K1 and K2 (Binary K). Vitamin D comes from the sun and grass-fed meats. Vitamin B12 and B9 (folate) are made by our bacteria, but also found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy.9 This vitamin is grossly affected when you have inflammation of the colon because the condition alters the quantity and healthy balance of the biome. The biome decides your ability to produce and absorb B12 and B9.5
The binary vitamin K (K1, K2) comes from avocados, lettuce, collards, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cheese, meat, butter, egg yolks and fermented foods.5 It should be noted here that all the vegetables, except lettuce, are FODMAT foods and are very difficult to breakdown, generally, so cheese, meat, butter and egg yolks would be better.10
Vitamin D and K are fat soluble vitamins, which means the body stores these vitamins in the fat.5 All the fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K.8 B12 and B9 are water soluble vitamins, which we cannot store and urinate out the excess.7 The water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate and cobalamin).6
What do these 7 vitamins do for us?
The two most important functions of vitamin D, which is deficient in 70% of sufferers, is the ability to increases the absorbency of calcium by 20x and is required to regrow the lining of the small intestine, often leading to secondary GI tract complications in sufferers. Vitamin K, as K1 assists with clotting and bleeding, while K2 drives calcium deep into the bones and keeps it out of the arteries and joints. Combined the lack of D and K leads to weak and brittle bones.5
B12 helps keep your body's blood and nerve cells healthy and assists in making DNA, the genetic material in our cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, a blood condition that makes people tired and weak.11 B9 aids in the production of DNA and RNA and is especially important when cells and tissues are growing rapidly, such as in infancy, adolescence and pregnancy. Folic acid also works closely with vitamin B12 to help make red blood cells and help iron work properly in the body.12 A deficiency in these vitamins impacts our ability to grow and repair and maintain a strong immune system.
The primary minerals that are affected are iron and potassium. 80% of sufferers have these deficiencies. Iron is found in meats and cyanobacteria (algae), such as spirulina. Men should avoid taking iron pills, because it can build up in the system and cause cirrhosis of the liver. There is little risk to women who are still menstruating, but those who are menopausal, it would be best to supplement with cyanobacteria or grass-fed meats.5 Iron absorption is both impacted by the inflammation of the colon, but also by the bleeding from hairline tears in the colon that are caused when tissues repeatedly experience swelling beyond their natural capacity. 5 Bleeding is identified by a black or intensely dark brown bowel movement.14
Potassium is found in broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin and leafy greens (lettuce, collards, cabbage, etc.).16 Keep spinach and kale down to ¼ cooked/day. They are both high in oxalate acid and should be taken with at least a TBSP of lemon to neutralize the acid. Oxalate acid is known to cause kidney stone and crystals and swelling in the joints (Hyperoxaluria).17
What do these 2 minerals do for us?
Iron is a mineral that the body needs for growth, development and repair. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body and it makes myoglobin, a protein that specifically provides oxygen to muscles.18
Potassium is considered an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions in the body. Potassium’s main role in the body is to help maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. Sodium, its counterpart, maintains normal fluid levels outside of cells. Potassium also controls nerve and muscle function. Your nerves need small amounts of potassium to function, along with sodium, to help your nerves send the electrical signals required for nervous system function. If you have too little potassium in your body, you might notice abnormal nerve function that affects your sense of touch and muscle control. You might notice numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, which soon become painful to use. This is called Peripheral Neuralgia. At this point your nerves can no longer communicate with your muscle cells and you might notice muscle twitches or cramps and might even develop paralysis until your potassium levels return to normal.5
Potassium also helps muscles to contract and supports normal blood pressure.15, 19 A deficiency in this area will result in fatigue, cramps, general bodily weakness, constipation, muscle paralysis and an irregular heartbeat.19
Another quality of Potassium that is often overlooked is its amazing anti-depressant side-effects.20 Because it relaxes the entire body, smoothly fires muscles, produces an even blood flow and regulates the Central Nervous System, when these functions are not operative the body and mind grow very anxious and no amount of fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Cipralex) or sertraline (Zoloft) will make a pittance of difference. They often exacerbate the problem because they deplete the body of B Complex vitamins and Potassium and negatively affect the liver and kidneys. You need between 4000mcg-4700mcg a day for full function and the most immediate way to top-up your levels is through vegetables, like lettuce and other green leafy veggies.20 You should be consuming between 7 and 10 cups of green veggies/daily.
How can you immediately fix the problem?
This easy question has a not-so-easy answer. You need to change your diet. FULL STOP. There is no magical solution or pill or anything else, except to stop eating the foods that are causing the inflammation in the first place. Inflammation is the cause and its removal is the solution and that can only be done through diet change.
We can help you. Give us a call (250) 594-3332 and set-up an appointment to learn how the easy way. We have helped hundreds of people and we can help you.
- Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/crohns-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353304
- US National Institute of Health (NIH). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome
- Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353326
- Penn Medicine. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/colitis
- Berg, Erik. The Most Common Nutrient Deficiency in IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), https://youtu.be/Ob8sR4A-UIA
- US National Institute of Health (NIH). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538510/
- Mount Sinai. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/nutrition/vitamin-c
- Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320310#:~:text=Fat%2Dsoluble%20vitamins%20are%20vitamins,do%20not%20dissolve%20in%20water
- Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-foods
- Berg, Erik. Fodmaps and IBS, https://youtu.be/CwKXVDUJEMo
- US National Institute of Health (NIH). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/
- Mount Sinai. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid
- Nucleus Medical Media https://youtu.be/eKLqFnAmK6c
- Enders, Giulia. Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Greystone Books, Vancouver. p.69-72 . 2018.
- Chan, T.H. Harvard Medical Review. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/
- WebMD, Nourish. https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-rich-in-potassium
- Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21117-hyperoxaluria
- US National Institute of Health (NIH). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-Consumer/
- Tremblay, Sylvie. How the Body Reacts with Too Little Potassium. SFGATE, Hearst Magazines. 2018.
- Potassium: The Most Important Electrolyte, Yet an Overlooked Epidemic. https://youtu.be/1hXpb3T96PU