Nutrient deficiencies due to celiac disease and gluten intolerance require specific management in order to reverse and recover from poor nutritional status.
“Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are autoimmune disorders that have a diverse range of manifestations throughout the body. Both of these disorders can affect any body tissue, organ and gland. Strict adherence to a gluten free diet is only the first step toward recovery. A second critical component is helping the body recover nutritionally, ” says Barbara Griffin, NMD, CNC, Certified Gluten Practitioner and director of Vital Health, Inc.
Anyone living on a restricted diet has to compensate for the lack of specific nutrients. People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance face have an added challenge since nutritional malabsorption often precede their diagnosis. “The right nutritional supplements are a vital part of recovering and living a healthy gluten free life. For most people living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance there are a common group of vitamins and minerals they are deficient. Digestive enzymes and probiotics each play vital roles in the recovery process,“ Dr. Griffin remarked.
For people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, vitamin D deficiency is present because it is absorbed in the region of the small intestines most commonly damaged by the disease. Vitamin D plays a critical role in modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. Vitamin D deficiency in celiacs could be making leaky gut and inflammation worse. (1) Vitamin D deficiency is linked to: increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, autism and dementia; high blood pressure; bone disorders; and a variety of cancers such as breast, colon, ovarian, and esophagus.
Dr. Griffin recommends introducing ProVitality Vitamin D3, which is available in 2000, and 5000 IU’s along with testing levels through a blood test.
Enzymes are proteins made by the bodies that break down specific types of foods into absorbable parts. Enzymes are a critical part of digestion and nutritional absorption. Deficiencies in digestive enzymes can contribute to sub-optimal nutrient absorption and are an important aspect of managing celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Digestive enzymes secretion is decreased in people with celiac disease due to the mucosal damage to the intestines.
When selecting a digestive enzyme look for one that is going to aide in the proper digestion of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Ideally, enzymes are taken with each meal to help break down foods. This leads to fewer digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and also enhances nutrient absorption. Vital Essence My-Zymes are a complete enzyme blend and are chewable, making them a great option for children who would benefit from digestive enzymes.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that keep the micro flora (bacterial balance) of the digestive systems intact and prevent overgrowth of “bad” bacteria. The normal human GI tract contains 400+ types of probiotic bacteria.
Probiotics help keep bad bacteria under control which is essential for celiacs since they are prone to bacterial Dybiosis, meaning they do not have optimal levels of the beneficial bacteria and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), a condition where bad bacteria in the small intestines perpetuate nutrient malabsorption. Besides keeping bacteria under control, taking a multi-strain probiotic can reduce gluten-associated joint and muscle pain, fatigue and brain fog as well as control yeast gut colonization. (2) When selecting a probiotic, look for one that contains multiple strains and that has a higher bacteria count (CFU). Probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach. Probiotics are available in adult and children formulas.
People with gluten intolerance, especially those diagnosed with celiac disease are often deficient in several key minerals. Due to inadequate pancreatic enzyme secretion, many celiacs are deficient in Vitamins A, E and K. Iron deficiency is the most common non-digestive symptom of celiac disease. (3) Iron absorption may normalize after one year or more on a gluten free diet.
Through the EVA screening, Dr. Griffin can check for nutritional deficiencies and identify what vitamins and supplements will help strengthen the body. If appropriate, Dr. Griffin will recommend blood work through SpectraCell Laboratory who specializes in nutritional testing.
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin and like B12, the absorption of folic acid is diminished in celiac disease. This is often the case in those who are gluten intolerant. L-5methyltertrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF) is the predominate form of folate. L-5-MTHF is a reduced, metabolically active form of folate that occurs naturally in foods and is the primary form of found in the blood and tissues. As a result, it is far more effective for people who have or prone to a folic acid deficiency.