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Gluten Sensitivity and Vitamin Deficiencies

Have You Had Your Nutritional Levels Checked?

One of the biggest delays in healing that patients with gluten sensitivity face has to do with the deficiency of vitamins, minerals, and other dietary nutrients. Many doctors check their patients for iron deficiency, but fail to check other essential nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, chromium, B-vitamins, etc. Failure to address nutritional deficiencies can lead to delayed healing and delayed response to a gluten free diet. The study below was conducted over a 10 year period and found that patients with a prior diagnosis of celiac disease had worse nutritional status even after following a strict gluten free diet.
Results: Coeliac patients showed a higher total plasma homocysteine level than the general population, indicative of a poor vitamin status. In accordance, the plasma levels of folate and pyridoxal 5″-phosphate (active form of vitamin B-6) were low in 37% and 20%, respectively, and accounted for 33% of the variation of the total plasma homocysteine level (P < 0.008). The mean daily intakes of folate and vitamin B-12, but not of vitamin B-6, were significantly lower in coeliac patients than in controls. Conclusions: Half of the adult coeliac patients carefully treated with a gluten-free diet for several years showed signs of a poor vitamin status. This may have clinical implications considering the linkage between vitamin deficiency, elevated total plasma homocysteine levels and cardiovascular disease. The results may suggest that, when following up adults with coeliac disease, the vitamin status should be reviewed.

Research Resource:

Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2002; 16: 1333–1339.  

Gluten Causes Nutritional Loss…

What You Can Do to Prevent Nutritional Side Effects

Talk with your doctor about the study above. I have provided a link to it so that you can print it out. Ask your doctor to test you for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It is important that you ask for more than just a standard serum test. Many doctors will check you blood for calcium, B-12, folate, and magnesium using serum tests, but these tests are largely inaccurate. The following lab tests should be requested to assess your nutritional status thoroughly:
  • Spectracell (highly specialized vitamin and mineral analysis) – This test measures your nutritional storage and gives an accurate assessment of your status over the past 6 months.
  • 25 OH D – This is a special vitamin D test.
  • Homocysteine (blood test)
  • Iodine loading test (urine test)
Remember that proper nutrition is the key to healing. If you are lacking any essential nutrients, your body will not be able to properly heal and your progress on a gluten free diet will be hindered. I have seen patients completely fail to respond to a gluten free diet because of nutritional deficiencies.

Many Medications Cause Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

I recently did a radio show on this very topic. Commonly prescribed medications have been shown to contribute to nutritional deficiencies. For example, blood pressure medications can cause deficiencies in magnesium, potassium, and B-vitamins. If you are taking a prescribed medication, click here to learn more on this topic, and then speak with your prescribing doctor. If your doctor does not have a nutritional background, encourage him/her to take Gluten Free Society’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 certification course. This 10 hour class is designed to get doctors and other health care providers up to speed on managing patients with gluten related issues. Part of that is knowing how to guide a patient through the nutritional pitfalls of healing. Remember that gluten sensitivity is a nutritional issue. If your doctor is not trained nutritionally, it will be hard for him/her to give you adequate guidance.

Need high quality, TRUE gluten free supplements? I recommend the following <<<

All the best, Dr. O

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