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What Supplements Should I Take if I Have Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity?
It’s no mystery that those with celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity(NCGS) struggle with malabsorption issues caused by gluten induced damage to the digestive organs. This damage is a common reason why those with celiac and NCGS continue to struggle with health issues. Nutrient deficiencies prevent adequate healing and recovery.
Multiple studies have shown the relationship between vitamin and mineral deficiencies and gluten intolerance and celiac disease. It is well established that damage to the intestinal cells can lead to malabsorption and poor digestion. One study showed that celiac patients following the gluten free diet still had vitamin and mineral deficiencies after 10 years of compliance.(1) Add to this the fact that the chronic autoimmune inflammatory damage taxes the nutritional status of the body and we are left with chronically ill patients who need supplementation as part of their recovery process.(2-5) Many with gluten sensitivity have persistent health issues like heart burn, depression, IBS, low hormones, etc and take natural supplements and medications for their symptoms. Now add to this that almost 1/4 of all supplements and even prescription medications contain hidden gluten and we have a major medical disaster.(6)
How Common Are Nutritional Deficiencies in those With Gluten Sensitivity?
Extremely… Let’s take a look at what a recent research study published in the medical journal, Nutrients(7), found:
- 87.5% of patients diagnosed had at least 1 vitamin or mineral deficiency
- 53.8% were deficient in at least 2 nutrients
- 67% were deficient in the mineral zinc
- 46% were deficient in iron storage
- 20% were deficient in folate (vitamin B9)
- 32% were anemic
- 19% were deficient in vitamin B12
- 14.5% were deficient in vitamin B6
- 7.5% were deficient in vitamin A
- 4.5% were deficient in vitamin D
The scary part about this – not all nutrients were even tested. For example, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B8, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, copper, selenium, chromium, iodine, vitamin K, vitamin E, and essential omega fats were not evaluated. The reality is, these nutrients are vital to fight inflammation, repair damaged tissue, regulate immune function, produce thyroid hormones, produce digestive enzymes, replicate new cells, regulate the adrenal glands, produce energy, help with fat metabolism, and much, much more. How do you heal? How do you maintain health when these essential nutrients are deficient?
Almost 25% of Supplements Contain Gluten
Don’t flush your money and health down the toilet. A recent study investigated over the counter vitamin and mineral supplements for the presence of gluten, and the results were alarming for those who are trying to follow a gluten free diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle through the use of multi-vitamins, probiotics, etc. Almost 24% of the products tested had enough gluten in them to create inflammatory damage. Here is a quote directly from the study:
we investigated the presence of gluten in twenty one common dietary supplements from the national market using the immunochromatographic assay. This visual assay proved to be an efficient rapid tool for gluten screening as an alternative to the ELISA techniques. The results have shown the presence of gluten in 23.8% of the investigated samples (vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, probiotics supplements, lactoferrin, propolis supplements).
Why is Gluten Cross Contamination In Supplements Such a Problem?
Many supplement manufactures process multiple products in their facilities. Often times, grain is used as a filler or additive. Wheat germ is a common example of a gluten based ingredient being used in supplement processing. This same problem can be seen in a number of prescription and over the counter medications. Below is a list of commonly used terms that may be grain based fillers in vitamin supplement products:
- Wheat germ
- food glaze
- food starch
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Textured plant protein
- Artificial flavors and colors
Corn is a Very Commonly Added Component in Supplements
If you have stayed up to date with current literature and research regarding corn gluten, then you are aware of Gluten Free Society’s stance on this problem. If you are not aware, go here now and catch up. Corn based fillers are extremely common in supplement products. As a matter of fact, most brands of vitamin C are derived from corn. This is one of the many reasons why vitamin C formulations cause reactions in patients with gluten intolerance issues. As corn is easily hidden and disguised in many ways, I have put together a list of terms you will want to be aware of to avoid this contaminant in your supplements. If you are in need of probiotics and vitamin supplements without gluten, you can go here.
4 Supplements That Everyone With Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease Should Take
- A high quality multi-vitamin/mineral
- Probiotics with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus
- Clean, mercury free concentrated Omega-3 fats with both EPA and DHA
- A full spectrum digestive enzyme that can also help support the break down of gluten
- C. Hallert, C. Grant, S. Grehne, et al. Evidence of poor vitamin status in coeliac patients on a gluten-free diet for 10 years. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2002; 16: 1333–1339.
- Gonçalves C, Oliveira ME, Palha AM, Ferrão A, Morais A, Lopes AI. Autoimmune gastritis presenting as iron deficiency anemia in childhood. World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov 14;20(42):15780-6. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i42.15780.
- Bizzaro G1, Shoenfeld Y. Vitamin D and autoimmune thyroid diseases: facts and unresolved questions. Immunol Res. 2014 Nov 19.
- McKeon A, Lennon VA, Pittock SJ, et al. The neurologic significance of celiac disease biomarkers. Neurology. 2014 Nov 11;83(20):1789-96.
- Ji Z, Fan Z, Zhang Y, Yu R, Yang H, Zhou C, Luo J, Ke ZJ. Thiamine deficiency promotes T cell infiltration in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis: the involvement of CCL2. J Immunol. 2014 Sep 1;193(5):2157-67.
- Oancea S, Wagner A, Cîrstea E, Sima M. Gluten screening of several dietary supplements by immunochromatographic assay. Roum Arch Microbiol Immunol. 2011 Oct-Dec;70(4):174-7.
- Wierdsma NJ, van Bokhorst-de van der Schueren MA, Berkenpas M, et al. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are highly prevalent in newly diagnosed celiac disease patients. Nutrients. 2013 Sep 30;5(10):3975-92. doi: 10.3390/nu5103975.