Can vitamin deficiency be an indicator of this disease?
Are you getting the right amount of nutrients your body needs to stay healthy? For those lacking in this area, the underlying issue could raise a red flag on having a digestive issue: celiac disease.
A recent study from Mayo Clinic researchers found that some adults who were diagnosed with celiac disease had micronutrient deficiency as an underlying issue and key symptom. And the study found people who had not yet been diagnosed with celiac disease often had vitamin and mineral deficiencies. While there are many signs of this disease, other symptoms like weight loss, diarrhea, etc., are common signs to look for. So for those showing signs of nutrient deficiencies and no other major symptoms, this may be a good trigger testing for celiac disease.
Dr. Andrew Albert, a gastroenterologist and Medical Director of Digestive Health at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says there are many symptoms some people may experience with celiac disease.
“People may experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation or even a rash on their arms that is relatively new,” Dr. Albert says. “Some people with severe celiac disease will experience weight loss, low blood count, weakness, lethargy and abdominal pain.”
When it comes to vitamin and nutrient deficiency, some common symptoms are anemia (low blood count) or lack of iron or vitamin B12, he adds.
One Mayo researcher noted that the stereotypical celiac disease symptoms may not be seen in those who might be overweight or don’t have other signs such as stomach issues.
For those having digestive issues, Dr. Albert says the best way to address any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies is by correcting the underlying inflammation from gluten. “Once the gluten is removed, the small intestine can repair itself, and the appropriate levels of nutrients and vitamins can be absorbed,” he adds.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, celiac disease can be very serious. The disease can cause long-lasting digestive problems, keep your body from getting all the nutrients it needs and can also affect the body outside the intestine. Nearly one in 141 Americans has celiac disease, and most don’t even know it.
The downside is that there is no real way to prevent celiac disease.
“It is at times hereditary but also can be spontaneous,” Dr. Albert says. “Some people do have a gluten intolerance and not necessarily an allergy. This also cannot be prevented.”
So when should you get tested for celiac disease?
“There is no need to be tested for celiac disease unless one experiences symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, vitamin deficiency or irritable bowel type symptoms,” Dr. Albert says. “Then, once diagnosed with celiac disease, testing is done three months after avoiding all gluten. Symptoms in younger people will often warrant a physician ordering specific testing for celiac disease.”
Dr. Albert recommends talking with your doctor if you have any of the symptoms above and looking at previous records to see if you have ever been tested in the past.
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.