Are there any dietary deficiencies associated with celiac disease?
Betty Kovacs, MS, RD
Patients with celiac disease are at risk for some nutritional deficiencies, including folate deficiency, B12 deficiency, and iron deficiency. Celiac disease patients are also at risk of developing low bone mineral density (osteoporosis).
There are two reasons for nutritional deficiencies in celiac disease patients:
- The diseased small intestine causes a lack of absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
- Strict gluten restriction can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Many of the gluten-free foods are not fortified or enriched with vitamins or minerals. Studies have also shown that gluten-free products are often low in B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber.
Fortunately, there are blood tests that your physician can do to determine if you are deficient in any nutrients. It's important to be aware of what deficiencies you are at risk for, and to make every effort to avoid these deficiencies.
The deficiency in nutrients does not mean a deficiency in calories. There is an increased incidence of obesity in persons with celiac disease who are following a gluten-free diet. The dietary goal is to follow a well-balanced diet, with appropriate supplements when needed, and an adequate amount of calories for maintaining a healthy weight.