Sufferers of celiac disease follow a gluten free diet, but many don’t add vitamin B12. People with autoimmune disease or gluten intolerance getB12 deficiency more often than not, according to health experts. Doctors advise sufferers of digestive diseases or pernicious anemia to supplement with B12.
Celiac disease facts:
“Alternative Names: Also classified as a disease of nutrient malabsorption, celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.” –DiagnoseMe.com
- Celiac disease (Gluten Enteropathy) is a digestive disease that causes severe damage to the small intestine’s lining.
- Celiac disease is also an autoimmune disease. When any food containing gluten enters the body, the body proceeds to attack its own digestive system, harming the inner lining of the small intestine.
- Gluten is a protein that occurs primarily in wheat, rye, and barley. All baked goods, snacks, or condiments that contain gluten are hazardous to patients with celiac disease.
- Celiac disease patients have difficulty digesting vitamins and minerals from food sources, particularly vitamin B12, which can lead to severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Some symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, flatulence, blood in the stool, pernicious anemia caused by B12 deficiency, and stunted growth.
- There is no confirmed cure for celiac disease. Physicians recommend lifestyle changes, such as following a gluten-free diet and supplementing with vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: What’s the connection?
“Since most B12 in our diets comes from animal products, vegans are at risk for B12 deficiency. Crohn’s and celiac disease, weight loss surgery, and chronic alcoholism can all interfere with a person’s ability to absorb enough of the nutrients they need. Seniors have more problems with nutrient absorption and malnutrition as well.” –WebMD
- Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in protein sources such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk products.
- Your body needs vitamin B12 for the nervous system, building red blood cells, mental clarity, maintaining metabolism, and preventing dementia.
- According to one study, celiac disease patients run a high risk of developing vitamin deficiencies. Out of over 400 celiac disease patients, 12% suffered folate deficiency and 5% were deficient in vitamin B12. Among men, 33% had iron deficiency, while 19% of women had low iron levels.
- Scientists conclude that damage to the small intestine in celiac disease patients prevents them from properly absorbing nutrients, thus causing severe malnourishment.
- Scientists also speculate that following a gluten-free diet might also contribute to vitamin deficiencies, adding that many gluten-free products lack sufficient B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, fiber or vitamin D.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms and treatment
- Only a blood screening for low B12 can confirm if you have vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Some symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, depression, psychosis, memory loss, brain fog, tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet, altered taste perception, and loss of balance.
- Unless treated, vitamin B12 deficiency could escalate into severe neurological damage, dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), and increased risk for heart attack and stroke. (See B Vitamins prevent Cardiovascular Disease- B6, B12 and Folate.)
- In some cases, following a gluten-free diet is effective at maintaining vitamin B12 levels.
- For people who exhibit celiac disease symptoms in addition to symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, doctors advise immediate supplementation of B12.
- Vitamin B12 supplementation can include weekly B12 injections, and may follow up with sublingual vitamin B12 tablets.
- For many, B12 shots cause bruising, and are extremely painful, as they require insertion into thick, muscular tissue. A popular option is to supplement with an alternative weekly over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplement, which administers the same amount of vitamin B12 as the B12 injections, without the pain, and doesn’t require prescription.