If I Have Celiac Disease, Do I Need to Avoid Casein?

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on December 24, 2018

If you have celiac disease, you know you need to avoid gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) completely. You might also wonder if you need to avoid casein, which is a protein in milk, butter, and cheese.

If you’re allergic to casein, definitely keep it out of your diet. But if you don’t have a casein allergy, you might not need to worry about it.

With celiac disease, a gluten-free diet can greatly help your symptoms, although there are some people who still have digestive problems even on that diet.

There hasn’t been a lot of research on whether casein has the same effects as gluten. The theory got its start decades ago, when some people thought that casein, gluten, and autism might be linked. That theory isn’t proven.

Keep in mind that you could be sensitive to milk because lactose, which is the natural sugar in milk, upsets your stomach. Casein and lactose aren’t the same and your sensitivity may have nothing to do with casein. Anyone can have lactose intolerance, including both people who have celiac disease and people who don’t.

You can ask your doctor to test and see if you’re allergic to casein.

If you do need to go on a gluten-free, casein-free diet, you may want to work with a nutritionist to make sure you still get all the nutrients you need.

If you get casein out of your diet, you’ll want to focus on getting enough vitamin D and calcium.

On a gluten-free diet, you’ll need to have other sources of B vitamins, iron, and fiber. You can do that through your diet, by choosing foods that are fortified with these nutrients, or through supplements.

WebMD Medical Reference



Celiac Disease Foundation: “What Is Celiac Disease?”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diets.”

Food Allergy Research & Education: “Milk Allergy.”

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