Recently, I visited a patient who has been dealing with anorexia nervosa for many years. When I suggested that she stop taking the multivitamin, she became very anxious and worried. We see many compulsive behaviors in patients with anorexia nervosa. For example, dividing the food into smaller pieces, eating only vegetables, using special ingredients to prepare foods that ensure that the food is healthy or does not make her fat. These compulsive behaviors, along with the fear of gaining weight, cause malnutrition in these patients.
Some therapists may prescribe supplements or multivitamins for patients to prevent problems related to malnutrition. But do multivitamins really help in the treatment of anorexia nervosa patients? No
In the case of the above patient, the multivitamin had reassured the patient that if she does not eat, there is no problem because she is taking multivitamins and there will be no acute problems for the body. Basically, in the above patient, eating multivitamins daily was part of the compulsive behaviors of anorexia nervosa. So when I suggested to her and the family that it is better to get vitamins through foods, she became very anxious and nervous.
It seems that the prescription of multivitamins in patients suffering from anorexia nervosa disorder is a double-edged sword, on the one hand, the therapist is concerned about the patient’s malnutrition, which of course does not only include vitamins, and on the other hand, the continuous use of multivitamins gives permission to anorexia nervosa disorder, which to continue
My advice to therapists and caregivers of patients with anorexia nervosa is to stop taking multivitamins by the patient and encourage the patient to eat, and the parents should take on the responsibility of feeding the patient who is suffering from this disorder.