KEY POINTS:

  • Nutrient deficiencies are caused by vitamins and minerals in the intestine that do not get absorbed. They can also come from a diet low in vitamins and minerals.
    • In newly diagnosed or untreated celiac disease, damage to the small intestine can lead to poor absorption of vitamins and minerals. Diarrhea that is often seen in celiac disease can also add to this problem. 1
    • A person with celiac disease must avoid foods containing wheat, rye, and barley. These foods are high in B vitamins, iron and other minerals. He/she may also need to avoid dairy products (high in calcium and vitamin D) due to lactose intolerance. Avoiding these foods can lead to many low vitamin and mineral levels.
  • Common deficiencies in newly diagnosed and untreated celiac disease are iron , B12, calcium 3, vitamin D, zinc, and copper . This depends on how severe the disease is and the person's diet.
  • Low vitamin and mineral levels can cause health problems, such as feeling tired and poor bone health.
  • Carefully following a balanced gluten-free diet can fix low vitamin and mineral levels. It can also restore good health. Most of the time, gluten-free vitamin and mineral supplements are needed.
  • Speak to your doctor or dietitian about your nutrient and supplement needs.

TAKE HOME MESSAGES:

  • Nutrient deficiencies are very common in newly diagnosed or untreated celiac disease.
  • Closely follow a balanced gluten-free diet. It is the most important step you can take to heal your small intestine and improve your health.
  • Check with your doctor to see if you need additional vitamins and minerals.
  • Follow up closely with your doctor to monitor and correct any deficiencies.

References:

  1. Kelly C. Common and Uncommon Presentations of Celiac Disease. In Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten-Free . Eds. Dennis M, Leffler D. AGA Press. Bethesda, MD, 2010.
  2. See J, Murray JA. Gluten-free diet; the medical and nutritional management of celiac disease. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 2006;21:1-15.
  3. Staun M, Jarnum S. Measurement of the 10,000-molecular weight calcium-binding protein in small-intestinal biopsy specimens from patients with malabsorption syndromes. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1988;23:827-832.

Revision Date: 8-21-12 
Author: Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN 
Editors: Anne Lee, MSEd, RD, LD and Rupa Mukherjee, MD

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