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Dear Dr. Cannell: Crohn’s Disease

Posted on: June 8, 2012   by  John Cannell, MD


Dear Council:

I want you guys to know that my wonderful chiropractor suggested that I start taking Vitamin D because I have Crohn’s Disease. Boy, was she right! I’ve been taking it daily without fail and it has boosted my overall health and well-being noticeably (fewer allergies, fewer upper respiratory illnesses, fewer Crohn’s symptoms, better skin, and the list goes on).

I did my homework on it before starting, and confirmed it was the right way to go. Along the way, I found the Vitamin D Council. I want you to know how grateful I am for your efforts in gathering and disseminating information about this crisis. I keep wondering whether my mother might have survived colon cancer had I known then what I know now. THANKS SINCERELY to all of you who set forth this information. It’s a public service you do.


Dear Andrea:

You’re welcome and say hello to your chiropractor. I always hoped chiropractors would get involved with the vitamin D revolution. I assume you are taking 5,000 IU/day; people taking less frequently do not notice so many positive changes. Fewer Crohn’s symptoms is good news to the 500,000 or so people in the USA with the disease. Crohn’s disease is more common in northern countries and is more common in northern areas of the same country, implicating a possible vitamin D involvement.

Shivananda S, Lennard-Jones J, Logan R, Fear N, Price A, Carpenter L, van Blankenstein M. Incidence of inflammatory bowel disease across Europe: is there a difference between north and south? Results of the European Collaborative Study on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (EC-IBD). Gut. 1996 Nov;39(5):690-7.

Parents, siblings or children of patients with Crohn’s disease are about 10 times more likely to develop the disease. Twin studies show a moderate heritability and moderate environmental component to the disease. A 2009 Japanese study found both vitamin D and vitamin K deficiencies were the rule.

Kuwabara A, Tanaka K, Tsugawa N, Nakase H, Tsuji H, Shide K, Kamao M, Chiba T, Inagaki N, Okano T, Kido S. High prevalence of vitamin K and D deficiency and decreased BMD in inflammatory bowel disease. Osteoporos Int. 2009 Jun;20(6):935-42. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

I strongly recommend that you obtain D-Plus (3/day is equal to 5000 IU of vitamin D). It has vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium, all of which you need. You also need calcium, at least 1,000 mg/day, as both low magnesium and low calcium can be complications of the disease.

Kelly AP, Robb BJ, Gearry RB. Hypocalcaemia and hypomagnesaemia: a complication of Crohn’s disease. N Z Med J. 2008 Dec 12;121(1287):77-9. No abstract available.

In addition, because of your Crohn’s disease, you may not absorb vitamin D very well, so in three months have a 25 (OH)D level. You want your 25(OH)D level on the high side of natural, around 60 ng/ml, and you may have to take extra D-Plus to achieve that. I can’t know, but I predict that your Crohn’s symptoms will lessen even further with higher doses of the D-Plus.

John Cannell, MD

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