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Vitamins and minerals in Cystic Fibrosis

Posted in Cystic Fibrosis

In cystic fibrosis a number of vitamins and minerals are important to help optimise health. These include calcium, iron and zinc as well as vitamins A, D, E and K.



Calcium is essential to the body for maintaining strong and healthy bones. PWCF (people with cystic fibrosis) may have low bone mineral density (oseteopenia or osteoporosis) due to some of the following factors:

Where do I get Calcium from?

ü  Getting enough vitamin D is essential to absorb calcium.

ü  Weight-bearing exercise (including walking and jogging) are very important for good bone health.


Iron is essential for blood production (and carrying oxygen in the blood) as well as many metabolic processes. PWCF may have low iron due to

Where do I get iron from?


Zinc is essential for the healthy immune system, to make proteins and DNA, for wound healing and for a proper sense of taste and smell.

Where do I get zinc from?


PWCF often need a higher intake of the vitamins A, D, E and K, probably due to malabsorption of these vitamins and/or higher requirements.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps to build normal tissues and cells in our body. It helps our immune system to work properly and is also very important to our eye sight, helping us see in dim light.

Where do I get vitamin A from?

Vitamin A is broken into two types; retinol and beta carotene.

Vitamin A supplements should only be taken under the supervision of your CF doctor or dietitian, for some individuals too much vitamin A can be dangerous.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy strong bones and teeth. It helps calcium be absorbed from food into the body. Often PWCF don’t absorb enough vitamin D, this can have a long term effect on your bones, weakening them and possibly causing osteoporosis.

Where do I get vitamin D from?

Vitamin D can be gotten from food or the sun. In direct sunlight when our skin is exposed we can make vitamin D ourselves. However in Ireland getting enough sunlight throughout the whole year can be a challenge. Individuals with CF can have low sunlight exposure due to illness, being in hospital or recommendations to reduce

sunlight when using some antibiotics, for this reason extra food sources of vitamin D may be required.

In some cases PWCF may require extra vitamin D tablets. In CF, vitamin levels are measured at least every year, in some cases individuals may be recommended to take extra vitamin D tablets as decided by their CF care team.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help limit the effects of toxins, which can cause damage to your cells in the body. Low levels of vitamin E have been shown to affect brain function especially in young children.

Where do I get vitamin E from?

Vitamin E can be found in foods such as nuts, oils, spreads, olives and some breakfast cereals.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important for correct blood flow and blood clotting as well as bone health.

Where do I get vitamin K from?

Vitamin K is found in vegetables, especially greens such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It is also made within the body by good bacteria in the gut. In CF the use of antibiotics can reduce the number of good bacteria in the gut and thus the amount of vitamin K in the body.

A healthy diet alone is not enough to meet the vitamin and mineral needs for the majority of PWCF, therefore a CF-specific multi-vitamin and mineral preparation is usually needed. Please discuss with your dietitian or doctor.

Created by the Cystic Fibrosis Interest Group, October 2016, Review October 2019

© 2016 Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute, INDI. All rights reserved. Maybe reproduced in its entirety provided source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a CF dietitian. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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