Nutritional deficiencies in inflammatory bowel disease: Therapeutic approaches

Sara Massironi, Roberta Elisa Rossi, Federica Alessandra Cavalcoli, Serena Della Valle, Mirella Fraquelli, Dario Conte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & aims: Malnutrition is common in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), mainly in Crohn's disease (CD) because the small bowel is primarily affected. We reviewed the literature to highlight the importance of proper nutrition management. Methods: A PubMed search was performed for English-language publications from 1999 through 2012. Manuscripts comparing nutritional approaches for IBD patients were selected. Results: We identified 2025 manuscripts: six meta-analyses, 170 clinical-trials, 692 reviews. The study findings are discordant. In adult CD, enteral nutrition plays a supportive role, steroid therapy remaining the first choice treatment. In CD children enteral nutrition may represent the primary therapy. As regards parenteral nutrition, there are no large randomized studies, although mild improvements in morbidity have been described as a result of parenteral nutrition in malnourished surgical IBD patients. Specific micronutrient deficiencies are common in IBD. A number of factors may contribute to micronutrient deficiencies, and these include: dietary restriction, disease activity and surgery.The possible therapeutic roles of omega-3 fatty-acids, probiotics and prebiotics have been studied, but the results are still preliminary. Conclusion: Protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient depletion are clinical concerns in IBD patients. Enteral nutrition, parenteral nutrition and micronutrient supplementation are cornerstone of the multidisciplinary management of IBD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-910
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Enteral nutrition
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Parenteral nutrition
  • Protein-energy malnutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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