Digestive Disorders: the Benefit of Vitamins
By Laude de Verdun, dietician at the Jérôme Lejeune Institute.
A balanced diet – i.e. one that contains all food families in the right quantities – is clearly as important to people with Down syndrome as it is to the general population. Nevertheless, particular attention should be paid to vitamin and mineral micronutrients. Here are a few dietary tips, split into themes.
Avitaminosis may be present consistently but may vary in intensity depending on the individual. To maximise vitamin intake, it is important to ensure that certain foods are consumed regularly.
For B vitamins
- Wheat yeast/bran > Daily sprinkled on salads or soup
- Eggs > 3-6 per week
- Mushrooms > regularly
- Foods rich in folic acid: leafy greens, strawberries, cabbage, etc. > every day
- Wholemeal bread > every day, according to personal tolerance.
For fat-soluble vitamins
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. It has a dual origin: endogenous – i.e. it is synthesised by the body in the skin under exposure to sun or ultraviolet rays – and exogenous, i.e. provided by the diet. Vitamin D has many functions for the body, the main one being to increase concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. It is also involved in other functions (hormonal, immune system).
The general population requires 15 µg/d for adult men and women. Dietary intake of vitamin D contributes to about 25% of the requirement, which is why supplements are necessary.
But you can prioritise foods with Vitamin D in your diet. These include:
- Fatty fish > 1 to 2 times a week minimum (sardines, mackerel, salmon, etc.)
- Dairy products > 3 times a day minimum
For vitamin C
It is recommended to eat fruit or vegetables (raw vegetables, salad, etc.) with each meal, and possibly as a small snack during the day.
People with Down syndrome have a predisposition to hyperuricemia (gout attacks). So as a preventive measure, special attention should be paid to how much and how often they eat cold meats and offal. A maximum of once every 15 days in reasonable quantities, as a preventive measure, seems a good frequency.
People with Down syndrome may have a zinc deficiency. Zinc is involved in the activity of more than 200 enzymes, in particular those that help protect against free radicals and those involved in protein synthesis (hence its importance in cell renewal, healing and immunity). So zinc helps prevent macular degeneration. The consumption of seafood rich in zinc, red meat and wholemeal bread is recommended.
Caution: although very rich in zinc, calf’s liver and pig’s liver are not recommended because of the risk of hyperuricemia
Eating fruit (preferably fresh: 2 to 3 per day), raw or cooked vegetables (with each meal), unrefined cereals (wholemeal bread, bran bread, wholegrain cereals) and legumes, while drinking about 1.5 L per day, is recommended to offset the effects of hypotonia on digestion. Regular physical activity like walking or working out on an exercise bike can also help prevent constipation.
People with Down syndrome tend to experience a degeneration of
the nervous system comparable to that of people with
Alzheimer’s disease. One way to fight this degeneration is by regularly eating omega 3 and DHA in particular. It is important to make sure
to stay within the RDAs, i.e. 1% of the RDA of omega 3 and 250 mg of DHA per day. So regularly eating sardines, mackerel and
and other fatty fish, and alternating cooking oils – opting for walnut and rapeseed oil for seasoning – is recommended.