Nutrition

Do you have any recommended supplement I could take to improve my health? Also, I'm on the slimmer side. How can I improve on my weight?

 

Being on the “slimmer side” is probably not a bad thing. Unless you are severely underweight (one way to evaluate your weight is calculating your BMI) I don’t recommend supplements.  Supplements are expensive and and just “supplement” the food you are eating, so why not just eat more real food?  If you are severely underweight and need concentrated calories that is something to discuss with your healthcare provider or a nutrition counselor.

 

You can supplement your diet with a vitamins.  As I have noted in other answers people who have sickle cell disease frequently have low vitamin D and zinc levels.  You can buy a multivitamin, check that vitamin D (should be about 2000 units) and zinc (should be about 35 mg per day) are included.  Zinc for medical therapy has been given in doses of up to 200 mg a day, some recommend 50 mg a day for sickle cell disease.  There are serious side effects if you take high doses of zinc for a prolonged period of time, if you are going to take more than 35 mg a day you should talk to your healthcare provider.  Unless you are iron deficient I would not recommend a vitamin supplemented with iron.

 

People with sickle cell disease require more calories depending on their level of hemolysis and the amount of exercise they engage in.  Exercise is good for people with sickle cell disease, you should try to walk as much as possible and use stairs rather than the elevator (within reason).  You need to hydrate constantly during the day and you can add calories (don’t drink soda and drinks with added sugar) by drinking smoothies you make yourself or the fruit smoothies you can get in some stores.

 

You should ask your healthcare provider if you have an unusually high level of hemolysis: high reticulocyte count, low hemoglobin, high bilirubin, high LDH.  If you do and if you have more than one or two hospitalizations a year you should consider hydroxyurea.  This is a safe and very effective medication for people with sickle cell disease.  It is generally underutilized.  It needs to be monitored by a doctor familiar with the medication and who knows the side effects and dosage.  See my answers to some other questions about hydroxyurea for more information.

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