May was Celiac Disease Awareness Month, and although we are now on to June there never is a bad time to take another look at this disease and offer some thoughts and suggestions on how to deal with it.
What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, one in which a person's immune system is triggered by gluten and will attack a person's small intestine. The primary result of these immune attacks is damage to the villi, which are small projections in the small intestine that enable nutrient absorption.
These attacks cause malabsorption and lead to a host of symptoms. These symptoms can include diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and gas, pain, nausea, and constipation. More than half of those adults with celiac disease also experience other complications such as iron anemia, osteoporosis, skin rash and joint pain, among other complications.
Celiac disease is a unique disease in that it occurs in people who are genetically predisposed to it, and it can begin at any age. There is no cure for celiac disease. Those with the disease typically must stick to a lifelong gluten-free diet in order to avoid the accompanying symptoms and complications.
Supplements for Those with Celiac Disease
Considering the effects of celiac disease nutrient absorption, as well as the potential complications that accompany this disease, there are a few reasons you might choose to take a dietary supplement. Following is a look at four of the most recommended supplements for those with celiac disease, and why they could help. Note: Be sure that the supplements you choose don't have gluten as an additive.
Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9, is a nutrient that some people with celiac disease are deficient in due to malabsorption. This is an important vitamin to get enough of since a folate deficiency can cause anemia.
Iron is also one of the substances for which celiac patients frequently are lacking. The most common effect of low iron in someone with celiac disease (or anyone, for that matter) is iron anemia, which causes headaches, fatigue, cravings, and other symptoms. Low iron can also cause growth and development issues in children and the unborn, so soon-to-be mothers and children with celiac disease should make sure to consistently consume sufficient amounts of iron.
Vitamin D: One effect of celiac disease on your gut is the breakdown of "tight junction proteins," leading to undigested food particles entering the bloodstream (leaky gut). Vitamin D helps to support and regulate these proteins. If you are deficient in vitamin D due to celiac disease, a vitamin D supplement could be crucial. Approximately 40% of adults in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin D anyways, so the chances of someone with celiac disease having this deficiency is relatively high.
Calcium: Because of the malabsorption of calcium, those with celiac disease are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. This can occur from leftover, or past, damage to the villi in the small intestine. Those with celiac disease could be at risk of calcium deficiency even if they consume the typical recommended amount in their diet, because of malabsorption. A supplement could prevent osteoporosis due to calcium deficiency. Sufficient vitamin D intake is necessary for your body to absorb calcium.
If you or a family member have celiac disease, consider the above supplements and how they might have an important dietary role. Before taking one of these supplements to address the issues that come with celiac disease, it is recommended that you talk to your healthcare provider.