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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Common in Newly Diagnosed Celiac Disease Patients

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 12/09/2013 - People with celiac disease commonly suffer malabsorption, weight loss and vitamin/mineral-deficiencies. A team of researchers recently set out to assess the nutritional and vitamin/mineral status of current “early diagnosed” untreated adult celiac disease patients in the Netherlands.

    vitamin_d_capsule--cc--kool_skatkat-2.jpgThe research team included Nicolette J. Wierdsma, Marian A. E. van Bokhorst-de van der Schueren, Marijke Berkenpas, Chris J. J. Mulder, and Ad A. van Bodegraven.

    They are affiliated with the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Department of Gastroenterology at Celiac Centre Amsterdam in VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    Researchers assessed 80 newly diagnosed adult celiac patients, averaging 42.8 years old, ± 15.1 years. They compared vitamin concentrations for those patients against a sample of 24 healthy Dutch subjects.

    Before prescribing gluten-free diets to the patients, the researchers assessed nutritional status and serum concentrations of folic acid, vitamin A, B6, B12, and (25-hydroxy) D, zinc, haemoglobin (Hb) and ferritin.

    Almost nine out of ten celiac patients (87%) measured at least one value below the lowest normal reference levels. Specifically, for vitamin A, 7.5% of patients showed deficient levels, for vitamin B6 14.5%, folic acid 20%, and vitamin B12 19%.

    Likewise, 67% of celiac patients showed zinc deficiency, 46% showed decreased iron storage, and 32% had anaemia.

    Overall, 17% of celiac patients were malnourished, with more than 10% experiencing undesired weight loss, 22% of the women underweight (Body Mass Index (BMI) < 18.5), and 29% of the patients overweight (BMI > 25).

    Vitamin deficiencies were nearly non-existent in healthy control subjects, though they did show some vitamin B12 deficiency.

    Interestingly, vitamin and or mineral deficiencies were not associated with greater histological intestinal damage or with adverse nutritional status.

    This study shows that vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies are still common in newly “early diagnosed” celiac patients, even as rates of obesity upon initial celiac diagnosis continue to rise.

    Thorough nutritional monitoring is likely warranted for establishing a dietary baseline and maintaining nutritional levels during the course of celiac disease treatment.

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    Very interesting article. To make an interesting connection here, consider that the list you gave: "folic acid, vitamin A, B6, B12, and (25-hydroxy) D, zinc, haemoglobin (Hb) and ferritin" overlaps a bit with the typical deficiencies of the average American. For confirmation of this, see the anti-aging videos of Dr. Bruce Ames. He's about as expert a nutrition expert as they get. And he shows a table with all the typical deficiencies seen in the general population. Folic acid is definitely on the list, but I don't have them all memorized. It makes me wonder whether the "wheat belly" theory is true and the breeding of super-wheat is damaging more people than we think. Oh well, the cure is the same.

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    So if the common celiac patient has vitamin deficiencies that contributes to weight loss, why then did I have tremendous weight gain? Since my diagnosis in 2004, I have gone from 164 lbs to nearly 198lbs. Go Figure!

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    This jives with my own experience. Upon final diagnosis (bioposy & blood), I was given a standard screening test and found be anemic, which explained my extreme fatigue. But interestingly a year later a different doctor did another screening and checked on B12 and I was still deficient despite being gluten-free for a full year. My body wasn't able to get back to normal levels on its own without supplements for several months in both cases.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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