Hand holding vitamin that highlights blood, eye health, bone

Why Are Fat-Soluble Vitamins Important in CF?

Vitamins A, D,E, and K, or fat-soluble vitamins, play an important role in making sure people with CF are growing and healthy. From helping the body fight off dangerous bacteria and viruses to protecting vision, fat-soluble vitamins work hard in the body.

Since vitamin deficiencies can be a big problem in CF, how does an individual know if their vitamin levels are sufficient? What supplements are available? And, what can you do to help your CF Care Team?

Why are fat-soluble vitamins important in CF?

About 80-90% of people with CF have a hard time absorbing fats due to pancreatic insufficiency.1 Due to sticky mucus trapped in the digestive tract, the pancreas is unable to release enzymes made to break down and help absorption of nutrients. This CF complication can make absorbing fat-soluble vitamins an issue as well. If left untreated for periods of time, vitamin deficiencies can cause some serious health problems such as:

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  • Vision changes
  • Weak and brittle bones
  • Fatigue
  • Weak immune system
  • Bleeding

Fat-soluble vitamin supplementation

There are specific vitamin formulations made for people who are deficient in fat-soluble vitamins due to malabsorption. The formulations contain higher amounts of vitamin A, D, E, and K so they are more easily absorbed. They are also available in different forms: liquid, chewables and softgels.2 DEKAs, MVW Complete Formulation, ChoiceFul, AquADeks, and Libertas are some of the brand name choices available.2 Your CF Care Team can help decide which brand and dose is best for you.

How do I best care for my vitamin levels?

Check annual vitamin levels

Fortunately, all it takes is a simple blood to check the status of fat-soluble vitamin levels in your body. Many CF clinics run annual labs each year that include checking for fat soluble vitamins, Iron, and Zinc. If you haven’t had your vitamin levels checked in awhile, speak to your CF clinic to set up a quick blood test.

Remember to take prescribed supplements (and enzymes)

With all the medications and pills someone with CF is expected to take daily, it’s easy to forget something here and there. Ensuring that you take your vitamins as prescribed (and with your enzymes) will help your body absorb the supplements fully for the best results. If you tend to forget or need help remembering, think about using a weekly pill organizer or setting an alarm reminder on your phone.

Report change in symptoms

Even if you feel it’s unnecessary, always make sure to report any new or worsening symptoms to your CF Care Team. Keeping the lines of communication open can help you and your doctor detect vitamin deficiencies before they cause long term problems. Together, you can develop a plan to repeat blood work, start or increase supplements, or change diet to help you feel better.

With a little attention, people living with CF can make sure their fat-soluble vitamin levels are sufficient and support all the hard work their body does on a daily basis!1-2Do you take fat-soluble vitamin supplements? What has your experience been with them? Share below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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