Food Supplements for Ulcerative Colitis
Though most food supplements are a waste of time - in the
case of ulcerative colitis there are two reasons why supplements
may be useful -
Compensation for poor absorption of vitamins B and Folic
Ulcerative colitis causes impaired function of the colon
- and hence vitamins that are generally absorbed in the colon
will benefit from supplementation. The main vitamin family
concerned is the B vitamin family - especially folic acid
if mesalazine is being taken. It is therefore prudent to take
a moderate vitamin B-Complex supplement and a folic acid supplement.
Please note that high potency vitamin B supplements (1000%
RDA upwards) should not be taken - as they are likely to be
There is now some firm evidence that Aloe Vera has therapeutic
effects for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Recent research
on Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled
trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis
seems to show positive results. Hopefully more research
into this area will follow in the near future.
In a number of studies omega-3 fish oil has proven helpful
in treating Ulcerative Colitis. These studies have used relatively
large doses - and it is though to be the anti-inflamatory
effect of these oils that helps. The doses used in trials
were of the order of 3.2 grams of EPA and 2.2 grams of HDA
per day (10-20 capsules depending on their strength). For
anyone watching their weight this comes to about 100 calories
so shouldn't be a problem.
Immune System Health - Zinc and Ulcerative Colitis
Zinc is a very important mineral that plays a large part
in regulating the immune system. It is not uncommon for western
diets to be deficient - and it is a very cheap supplement
costing typically about £2.00 per month. I would recommend
a cleated zinc supplement of 15mg per day.
Much more information on Zinc can be found at
of the immune system
but here is a snippet -
Importance of Zinc to the Immune System
Zinc is an essential element that is commonly deficient
in individuals who eat a diet high in cereal content but
low in animal protein. Cereals contain phytic acid which
binds zinc and inhibits its absorption from the intestinal
Clinical signs of zinc deficiency may occur when plasma
zinc concentrations drop below 65 mcg/dL. Zinc deficiency
is associated with dermatitis, poor wound healing, retarded
growth and sexual development, and reduced taste acuity.
Values less than 33 mcg/dL are particularly associated with
loss of the senses of taste and smell, abdominal pain, diarrhea,
skin rash, and loss of appetite.
Zinc deficiency may be common in children with autism who
may have had diarrhea for extended time periods and may
contribute to their poor appetites. Zinc affects multiple
aspects of the immune system, from the barrier of the skin
to gene regulation within lymphocytes.
Zinc is also crucial for the normal function of cells which
mediate nonspecific immunity, such as neutrophils and natural
killer cell. B lymphocyte development and antibody production,
particularly immunoglobulin G, is compromised by zinc deficiency.
The macrophage, a pivotal cell in many immunologic functions,
is adversely affected by zinc deficiency. This can dysregulate
intracellular killing, cytokine production, and phagocytosis.
The effects of zinc on these key immunologic mediators
is rooted in the myriad roles for zinc in basic cellular
functions such as DNA replication, RNA transcription, cell
division, and cell activation. Apoptosis or programmed cell
death is potentiated by zinc deficiency. Zinc also functions
as an antioxidant and can stabilize membranes.
Though it is by no means certain - it is very likely that
probiotics can play a useful part in both managing and effectively
curing Ulcerative Colitis. This is because they colonize the
colon with harmless/beneficial bacteria that compete with
the less friendly bacteria that may attack/inflame the colon.
These beneficial bacteria also help digest food.