Yes, people with celiac disease have nutritional deficiencies. Many times the deficiencies are found at diagnosis and can even lead to the investigation of celiac as the root cause. However, it was thought that once people were on a gluten free diet and the gut healed, these deficiencies would correct themselves. Unfortunately, that may not be the case.
A meta-analysis of 73 studies regarding celiac disease found that people on a long term gluten free continue to have nutrient deficiencies. According to this study, only 8% of adults diagnosed with celiac have normal gut mucosa after an average of 16 months – which is not good news. They also say 19% of children do not achieve normal gut mucosa after 1 year. Now, one year is really short amount of time and other studies say it can take longer for the gut to heal. So, take this with a grain of salt.
Anyway, most of the studies conducted look at patients nutrient deficiencies at the time of diagnosis. This shows the following levels of deficiencies in patients:
- 30% have vitamin B12 deficiency
- 40% have iron deficiency
- 20% have folic acid deficiency
- 25% have vitamin D deficiency
- 40% have zinc deficiency
- 3.6% of children have calcium deficiency
- 20% of children have magnesium deficiency
All of these are bad and were thought to resolve on a gluten free diet. The idea that they don’t means that we should continue to receive follow up care from our doctors. Most of the time we might not know that we have these deficiencies. It might cause some fatigue or aches and pains, but we can go a long time being deficient before it causes real problems.
In looking up most of these deficiencies, common symptoms are fatigue, hair falling out, growth retardation, and mouth sores. While each deficiency has its own pattern of symptoms, many overlap, so getting blood tests done can clarify what specific deficiency is present.
This is why follow up care is important. Your doctor might not have a whole lot of tools to help the celiac disease specifically, but they can help with the vitamin deficiencies. B12 shots, iron infusions, prescription strength vitamins, and supplement recommendations can all help alleviate the symptoms. If they can help resolve the vitamin and mineral deficiencies, then we might feel better.
Sorry, there’s the article.