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Nutrition for an Anorexic Individual

By Martin Hughes ; Updated July 18, 2017

Anorexia, also known as anorexia nervosa, is a condition characterized by an unrelenting pursuit of thinness. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, anorexics appear emaciated, possess an unwillingness to keep a healthy weight and have a distorted body image. Anorexics often engage in excessive exercise to lose weight. Nutritional support may be extremely helpful in treating your anorexia, but you should always clear the use of nutritional therapies with your physician first.

Anorexia Nervosa

Although anorexia can affect anyone, most people who develop this condition are female. The National Women's Health Information Center states that females account for about 85 to 95 percent of anorexics. The center states that you are likely anorexic if you have a low body weight for your height, possess an intense fear of gaining weight, believe that you are overweight when in fact you are very thin, and you have missed three consecutive menstrual periods.

Nutritional Approach

Nutritional treatments -- nutritional supplements, particularly -- have long been used in treating anorexia, although not all nutritional supplements used for this health purpose may be backed by scientific data. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, numerous nutritional supplements -- both herbal and non-herbal -- have historically been used in treating anorexia. These include coenzyme Q10, 5-HTP, creatine, probiotics, L-glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, a daily multivitamin, ashwagandha, catnip, fenugreek and milk thistle.

Highlighted Supplement

One of the most important nutritional supplements, besides a quality multivitamin and mineral complex, is acidophilus. According to certified nutritional consultant Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," acidophilus is required by anorexics to help replace the friendly gut bacteria lost from the use of laxatives and vomiting. Acidophilus, also known as lactobacillus acidophilus, is a common inclusion in probiotic preparations that are taken orally to help improve gastrointestinal and immune system health.


Anorexia is a serious health problem that may lead to serious health complications, including dangerous heart rhythms, extreme malnutrition, bone weakening and even death in severe cases. If you suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss healthy treatment strategies to address your condition. In most cases, a multidisciplinary treatment approach is more effective than nutritional therapy alone in treating your anorexia.

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