Gluten Sensitivity and Vitamin Deficiencies | Gluten-Free Society

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    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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    Gluten Free Warrior Commentary


    14 responses on “Gluten Sensitivity and Vitamin Deficiencies

    1. Penny Sowle says:

      My dr has me on 35,000 units of b12/folate sublinigual(sp)(my choice) supplements because injections were not effective plus my limbs would go numb after the injection. I suffer from horrible stomach pain, bloat,inflammation, neuropathy and organ problems, joint pain etc etc. To date my b12 levels are still below 220. I take 35,000 + units of Vitamin D3 a week, those levels seem to be holding slightly above low. I am not sure at this point what I can do get my levels up where they should be, I eat foods that contain b vitamins, and still I can’t retain b12. My dr wont test any other deficiences because my CBC comes back fine. I have discussed with her your research and it goes in one ear out the other–she wants to see documented support of the findings. Trying to find another dr in my area who is up to date on Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease is like looking for a needle in a vey large haystack, I’ve gotten where I am now with the dr I have. How do you get your dr to take you serious about the damage Gluten sensitivity/Celiac Disease can do?

    2. Wendy says:

      I use injectable B12 that has no preservatives, it’s the only one that my body will metabolize.

    3. Reginald Thornton says:

      Too bad there’s no indication here as to a minimum level or suggested level of vitamin C supplementation. I realize individual needs could vary but at least give us a benchmark from which to work . . . .

    4. Lisa says:

      I, have tried the B12 injections also, but after the third one, my entire face and neck broke out horribly, and this lasted for a few months. I also eat many foods with B vitamins, but don’t seem to be able to bring the numbers up.

    5. JL says:

      I’ve used Premiere Research Labs’ Max B Stress and was able to raise my B12 level from around 230 to the mid 600’s in about 4 months. Interesting info on Vitamin C…my bet is that most Americans have a bit of subclinical scurvy to deal with!

    6. Glen says:

      I have eaten normally my whole life not sure if I have celiac disease or not. It seems if I eat bread, beer, cakes, pastas,candies etc that I get sick as a dog. I do not understand being gluten free or what gluten free foods are. Even lists of gluten free foods on line are not entirely true. Help?

    7. marina says:

      An average GP only know so much of the field he is in. The do not research further on anything unless they have these symptoms with close family members or themselves. It is very seldom found that our doctors knows anything about glute/wheat sensitivity. My doctor’s wife and two children suffer from it and that is why he could diagnose me, but he still is under the impression that I can eat oats, buckwheat, rice and corn!!

    8. Deborah Bradford says:

      If you have Hashimoto’s,an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid,you probably shouldn’t take iodine. For me,iodine is more inflammatory than gluten(although I don’t eat either),and harder to know if it’s in my food,especially when I eat out.

    9. SB says:

      find yourself a functional or integrative physician to handle these issues. National associations have websites, showing their locations in your general area. If no luck, then visit Dr Hymen’s website (known for all food allergies), and find a link or information about national associations. Common sense would be to go off of all gluten as a test: if you feel better in a week or so, you are on the right path! Eventually, you may not require massive doses of vitamins. Hope this helps!

    10. Donna says:

      I went wheat free about 6 months ago which cured several health issues including acid reflux, arthritis pain, low energy, etc. I’m feeling 20 years younger. I had trouble with B-12 levels, and I found that placing a drop of water on a 5 mg sublingual tablet to dissolve it and then placing it in each nostril every day, (using my pinky), took care of getting the B-12 I had lacked. More efficient absorption than under the tongue. Much less expensive, too, as it stretched the tablet over about 3 or 4 days. Good luck.

    11. Zella Maquiso says:

      Im a gluten sensitive….im already avoiding those gluten food but still having edema…please help me…i know my protein is low. thank you

    12. […] system leading to reduced hormone production.  Another one of the detrimental mechanisms of gluten is nutritional loss via malabsorption of vitamins and minerals from food.  These loses can also lead to hormone […]

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