Crohn’s disease is a debilitating condition that causes chronic stomach pains, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. A type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease often requires gastrointestinal surgery to treat damage done to the digestive tract- esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and colon. Often, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms exacerbate the effects of Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease patients run a high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, which often occurs as a result of damage to the digestive system, or as a side effect of GI surgeries. The removal of the ileum (ileostomy), for example, permanently prevents you from absorbing vitamin B12 naturally from food sources such as lean beef, chicken, seafood, and dairy products, as the ileum is crucial for utilizing vitamin B12. Similarly, any damage to the stomach walls or small intestines, from frequent vomiting or acid reflux, ultimately inhibits your ability to produce intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme responsible for bonding with vitamin B12 and shunting it through your digestive system.
Another reason for the high correlation between Crohn’s disease and vitamin B12 deficiency is that patients of IBD have to follow a restrictive diet, in order to avoid irritating the GI tract. This may involve a process of eliminating all foods that cause stomach discomfort, in addition to following your doctor’s guidelines. Because of the limited menu of “green light” foods, coupled with the inability to absorb certain vitamins, malnutrition, especially vitamin B12 deficiency, is a common complication of Crohn’s disease.
The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may seem light compared to Crohn’s disease, but consider this; vitamin B12 is crucial for many vital bodily functions, and a depletion of vitamin B12 can result in debilitating ailments. Vitamin B12 impacts your nervous system, red blood cell production, hormonal balance, emotional health, and cognitive functioning skills.
Supplementing with vitamin B12 is one crucial part of your multipronged treatment for Crohn’s disease. For increased energy, mental clarity, and metabolic integrity, experts recommend at least 1000mcg of vitamin B12, taken per month or as needed. For Crohn’s disease, only nonedible vitamin B12 supplements are effective. These include vitamin B12 shots, sublingual vitamin B12 tablets, or other over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements that are available online or at local pharmacies.