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Your Tongue and Nutrition

Gluten Can Alter Your Tongue

A common manifestation for those suffering from the detriments of gluten occurs in the mouth. The images of the tongue show a beefy dark red appearance with many grooves. This is also sometimes referred to as magenta tongue. The presence of this symptom is often times accompanied by intermittent bouts of dizziness, ringing in the ears, and sharp nerve pains in the hands or feet (often times referred to as a neuropathy). Tongue changes like these can take years to form, and commonly signify a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Beefy tongue - gluten sensitivityBeefy tongue - magenta - -12 deficiency and gluten

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Because gluten can damage both the acid producing cells of the stomach as well as the carrier shuttle for vitamin B-12, the deficit can be present even when the diet contains adequate quantities. Remember that vitamin B-12 is only found in meat (chicken, beef, fish, eggs, lamb, pork, etc). Those trying to follow a vegetarian diet are also at high risk for developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Why is Vitamin B-12 So Important?

This critical nutrient plays a role in many important functions. Some of them include:
  • Repair and replication of DNA and RNA (necessary for growth and healing)
  • Production of the insulation that surrounds the nerves in the brain and spinal cord
  • Protection from cardiovascular disease
  • Protection from the development of dementia and neuropathy
  • Maintenance of energy production
  • Aids in sleep regulation by helping produce melatonin

How Do We Get Adequate B-12 Levels?

Meats and animal products are rich in vitamin B12. The nutrient is broken down from these animal foods in our stomach through the action of acid. Afterwards, it is picked up by intrinsic factor and shuttled into our small intestine to be absorbed into the blood stream. Those with gluten damage to the stomach and intestines have a very difficult time digesting and absorbing this vitamin. Often times it can take 6 months to a year on a gluten free diet to begin processing vitamin B12 properly. That is why supplementation can play a valuable role in health recovery.

Not All Forms of Vitamin B-12 Are Created Equally

Most supplements on the market contain an type of B-12 called cyanocobalamin. This form of B-12 is inferior when compared to Methylcobalamin. Research shows that methylcobalamin (the same type as used in my formulation) has superior bio availability than other forms commonly used in over the counter and prescription supplements. This form of the vitamin is better utilized and recognized by the body. It is the form that the body uses as a co-enzyme for the activation of many important chemical reactions. Even most injectable forms of B-12 are found in an inferior cyanocobalamin form. The three most common types of B-12 on the market are as follows (listed in order of best to worst):
  • Methylcobalamin
  • Hydroxycobalamin
  • Cyanocobalamin

Common Health Problems and Symptoms Linked to Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

If you suffer from…
  • Brain fog
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Inability to remember words or important tasks
  • Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Numbness and tingling in your hands or feet (neuropathy)
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Lab tests that show low platelets, red or white blood cell counts
  • Irritability
You will most likely benefit from vitamin B-12 supplementation.

15 Responses

  1. My b12 was flagged as too high, over 1000+. I’ve been GF for 8 years, strict Paleo for 2+. When I eat GF foods I am sensitive to, I get sores on my tongue, cracks in my fingers/hands and I’ve had several serious bouts of vertigo the last three years. Also, recently developed muscle fasciulations in my legs. Nobody here in Corvallis can figure out what’s still going on. Big bummer! Does anybody know if too high b12 can cause this? I do eat grass fed organ (lamb kidneys and liver) several times a week.

  2. My tongue has looked like this, even worse now, for as long as I can remember; at least 30 years. I recently “presented” it to my GI/GP (same man) as a symptom of celiac since I have been having gastro issues for the past 2 years. I “finally” had the blood work (negative) and the upper scope (negative) done – and he handed me a xeroxed high fiber diet for diverticulosis. Well, I’ve been eating that way for years, and it hasn’t moved a thing in my colon suffering with bouts of both C and D. I stopped gluten on my own 4 weeks ago, am taking probiotics and a multivitimin and already seeing a difference in my bowels. I hope eventually my tongue will look normal.

  3. Steve, you might consider asking for a Spectracell blood test. It measures your intracellular nutritional status. Serum values for vitamins are often times misleading.

  4. Mydaughter has leaky gut and she cant take gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts. If she takes any of this she will have pain on her tongue but i am nkt sure which one is giving her tbe strongest reaction gluten or dairy or eggs? Shes only 7 years old. What other tests can sbe take to know for sue what cause the pain on her tongue?

  5. I have had a geographic tongue for about 34 years. I have had in’s n GI issues all my life. No MD can explain marks on my tongue after eating white flour or sugar. Now dm2 for 20 yrs with no family he. Need referral for good MD in San JoseCa.. can you refer? Need help.

  6. My tongue gets sore places on it and I’m wondering if it’s from gluten and sugar but i don’t understand why?

  7. My tongue has the ridges on the sides daily, cracks in it, and will at times have a white/pale yellow film on it. I suffer from bouts of either diarrhea or constipation. I also get terrible body pains that come and go in my arms, legs, and head. My endoscopy and colonoscopy came back negative(didn’t find celiac). I had blood work done and an H Pylori test. But I’ll feel sicker after eating gluten. But still can’t pinpoint what’s really wrong. I’ve been to two different GI doctors and feel constantly sick. So frustrated! I take Vitamin D and B12…help! Any suggestions?!

    1. Hi Emily!

      I hope this comment reaches you. I am experiencing the same symptoms! Did you every figure out what was the cause or what helped?

  8. I seem to have NCGS (not celiac). I assume all my spices Garlic powder, basil, dill, steak seasoning need to be gluten free-correct?

  9. I ate some chips which said ¨might contain wheat¨ but I didn´t realize till I saw the ingredients, my tongue went numb like if I drank a very hot beverage, I consulted this with a doctor and he said that it might be intolerance to some kind of condiment, can you give me some references, I´m having trouble eating because I´m afraid something will happen. help!!

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