The role of dietary supplements in inflammatory bowel disease: A systematic review

Roberta E. Rossi, Tara Whyand, Charles D. Murray, Mark I. Hamilton, Dario Conte, Martyn E. Caplin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic immune disorders of unclear aetiology. Dietary deficiencies may be a potential pathogenic factor in their development. Patients often take food supplements without knowledge of any evidence base. We have therefore assessed the evidence for food supplementation in the management of IBD. A PubMed search was performed for the terms Inflammatory bowel disease; nutritional deficiencies; dietary supplements; curcumin; green tea; vitamin D/other vitamins; folic acid; iron; zinc; probiotics; andrographis paniculata; and boswellia serrate. PubMed was used to search for all relevant articles published between January 1975 and September 2015. Curcumin supplementation has been reported to be effective in reducing the symptoms and the inflammatory indices in IBD patients. Similar results have been observed for green tea; however, pertinent studies are limited. Vitamin D supplementation may help to increase bone mineral density in IBD patients and to reduce disease activity. IBD patients with ileal resections higher than 20 cm may develop vitamin B 12 deficiency that requires parenteral supplementation. There is no current evidence to support fat-soluble vitamin supplementation in IBD patients. Zinc and iron should be supplemented in selected cases. Probiotics (VSL#3) may reduce disease activity in IBD patients with pouchitis. Complementary and alternative medicines are used by IBD patients and some studies have shown promising results. In summary, attention to dietary factors such as curcumin, green tea and vitamins, including vitamins D and B 12, appears to be beneficial and, if necessary, supplementation may be appropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1364
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • dietary supplements
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • nutritional deficiencies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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