Nutritional Deficiencies and The Gluten Free Diet

by Nadine Grzeskowiak, RN – guest author


Nutritional deficiencies are an important topic in the celiac disease and gluten intolerance community. When left untreated or undiagnosed celiac disease and gluten intolerance can lead to severe vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. These are usually a result of intestinal damage that hinders the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Such deficiencies can lead to a multitude of health problems such as: weight gain or loss, anemia, osteoporosis, neurological symptoms, and more.

Once on a gluten free diet nutritional deficiencies can be reversed. It is extremely common when first diagnosed to feel like you cannot get enough to eat. As your body begins the healing process it will start to absorb nutrients and vitamins. During this process you may feel like you are starving. Eat as much as you want as long as it is healthy gluten free food. The majority of people will either gain or lose weight and end up at their ideal weight, primarily because their body is no longer starved of essential nutrients.

It has been widely marketed that the gluten free diet is one that lacks vitamins and nutrients. It is true that the label gluten free does not automatically equal a healthy product. There is such a thing as gluten free junk food and few gluten free products are enriched with vitamins and minerals. It is believed in the medical community that a diet without fortified products will leave a person deficient in vitamin B, calcium, fiber, and vitamin D. I, however, believe that the gluten free diet can be one of the healthiest diets a person can live by. My personal recommendation is to maintain a diet that is in rich in vitamins and minerals from natural sources. What does that mean? Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, lean fish, protein, nuts and seeds. It’s all about choices. Which sugar do you bake with? Is it refined cane sugar? Molasses? Pure maple syrup or honey? Do you choose white potatoes or do you mix it up with nutrient dense sweet potatoes or yams.

Even on a nutrient dense gluten free diet it can still take months and sometimes years for a body to heal completely. Therefore, it is essential for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance to take some form of nutritional supplements. Before starting any supplement regiment it is important to sit down with your doctor and discuss the best plan for you. General supplements that I often recommend for celiac patients are; multi-vitamins, fish oil, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Due to intestinal damage it may be difficult to absorb nutrients in a hard tablet form. Therefore, I recommend that these supplements be taken in liquid or capsule form.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Our bodies are very dynamic systems and often will tell us when things are not right. Please take note if you are hungry all the time or crave a specific food; it may be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. If you are concerned, I recommended speaking with your doctor and inquiring about routine blood work. Currently I recommend the following baseline blood work to my patients: Complete Metabolic Panel, Complete Blood Count, Total Iron-Binding Capacity, B12, Lipid Panel, A, E, D, K and a Bone Density Test.

I’m Nadine Grzeskowiak,
a Registered Nurse in Oregon for 20 years.
I created Gluten Free RN, specializing in gluten intolerance
and celiac disease. My mission is to get people on the
gluten free diet and feeling better!
Let my experience save you the time, money and suffering
by allowing you to find out sooner rather than later
that you and your family are affected.
The Gluten Free RN is located in Corvallis, Oregon.
Visit my website:
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On May 11th, 2012, posted in: CeliacCorner Blogs by
2 Responses to Nutritional Deficiencies and The Gluten Free Diet
  1. I am new to celiac disease and this article helped me a lot. I definately need to ask my doctor to be sure I am checked for nutritional deficiences – thanks a heep.

  2. Nadine, thank you for this information. I was deficient in many of the vitamins you mentioned when I was first diagnosed with celiac.

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