Gluten is a common nutrient in many foods. However, many people cannot consume it due to gluten sensitivity or because they have celiac disease. Here we take a quick look at gluten, and then discuss five ideal gluten-free supplements for those who must avoid gluten.
Why Some Choose to Avoid Gluten
Gluten is a protein which occurs naturally in rye, wheat, and other grains. It is natural, and is not inherently negative when ingested, at least for most people. Even though gluten is contained in many of the foods we eat, the digestive enzymes in the human body are unable to entirely break down gluten.
Despite this, most people who consume foods containing gluten still benefit from the protein and other nutrients contained in those foods. The trouble with gluten is that some people have a gluten sensitivity, or worse yet, celiac disease.
Gluten sensitivity (separate from celiac disease) is when the body has relatively mild negative responses to gluten. These are often gastrointestinal in nature and can include bloating, nausea, diarrhea and constipation, as well as fatigue and joint pain. Celiac disease, however, is more serious. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, in which the small intestine is damaged from the consumption of gluten. Individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease must take great care to choose foods and supplements which are gluten-free.
Five Gluten-Free Supplements
Many supplements on the market contain small but impactful amounts of gluten. For this reason, we are highlighting some effective gluten-free supplements, most of which are especially beneficial for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
A gluten-free probiotic supplement can support the gut microbiome of an individual. These positive bacteria directly introduce healthy bacteria to the gut, which help to balance out the negative bacteria which are often present. However, many probiotic supplements contain wheat and therefore contain gluten. For this reason, a gluten-free probiotic supplement could be very beneficial to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Folate, or vitamin B9, is an important vitamin most commonly found in fortified whole-grain foods and legumes, and less common in gluten-free grains. For this reason, those on a gluten-free diet could benefit from supplementing with vitamin B6. 400 mcg of vitamin B6 per day is recommended for adults.
Vitamin D is another vitamin which many people ingest through fortified grain-based foods, such as cereal. Studies show that those with celiac disease are especially prone to being deficient in vitamin D. Because vitamin D is so crucial for the body, those with celiac disease should strongly consider supplementing with vitamin D.
Iron: Anemia is a condition strongly linked to iron deficiency, and it is also a common symptom of celiac disease. At least one study has shown that anemia compounded with celiac disease can cause additional damage to the small intestine. For these reasons, getting enough iron could have certain positive effects for those with celiac disease. Iron is often contained in a gluten-free multivitamin supplement.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is fairly common among those with celiac disease, because B12 is most common only in fortified grain-based foods. This deficiency can cause fatigue because vitamin B12 is crucial for the maintenance of blood and nerve cells. Supplementing with a gluten-free B12 supplement can make up for this deficiency and potentially improve the quality of life of those with celiac disease.
If you or a family member are sensitive to gluten, or have celiac disease, then you should consider the five supplements discussed above. These could help make up for a nutrient deficiency. Talk to your healthcare provider first before taking a new supplement.