Many people today adopt a gluten free diet due to gluten sensitivity or an autoimmune condition known as celiac disease. Until recently, celiac disease was relatively rare, but now an estimated one percent of all Americans suffer from this digestive reaction. A further one percent may have a gluten allergy or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
A simple Alcat test on a blood sample can detect an allergy to over 450 substances. However, most people who develop gluten intolerance are already aware of the problem as they develop digestive discomfort, abdominal bloating or diarrhea after eating wheat, barley or rye grains.
Adopting a gluten free diet can quickly solve these issues, but it does create another problem – vitamin B deficiency. By avoiding bread, beer, cereals, cakes, cookies, pastas and sauces containing gluten, you can be lacking certain essential nutrients. Celiac disease also inhibits the body’s ability to absorb minerals and nutrients, so it is particularly important for sufferers to top up their gluten free diet with the following supplements.
Folic Acid (Folate)
Usually found in enriched grain products, folate is a B vitamin that is essential for producing red blood cells and new cell growth. It is particularly important for pregnant women to ensure the baby develops correctly. Those on gluten free diets can find it in spinach, kale, liver and citrus fruits as well as in supplements.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps make serotonin and norepinephrine which transmit signals in the brain. Vitamin B6 is also needed to make myelin, a protein in nerve cells. Deficiency of vitamin B6 in gluten free diets can cause problems with the skin, heart, nervous and circulatory system. Mainly found in cereals, B6 is also present in smaller quantities in carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes, milk, eggs, fish and meat.
This water-soluble vitamin is stored in the liver but deficiencies due to gluten free diets can cause pernicious anemia and excessive sweating. Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis and can be found naturally in protein in fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and dairy products.
B-Complex Supplements for Gluten-Free Diets
If you prefer, look for a B-complex supplement containing at least 800 mcg folic acid, 3 mg vitamin B6 and 500 mcg B12. A study of patients on gluten free diets gave them a similar B-supplement for six months. They found their homocysteine levels dropped 34%, suggesting a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The participants also reported feeling healthier, less anxious and less moody.
You’ll find plenty more information about gluten-free diets on the gluten.org website.