FeaturesApr/May 2014 Issue

Nutrient Know-How: Supplementing a Gluten-Free Diet

Why supplement?

 

Although there are no prescription drugs for celiac disease, people on a gluten-free diet may still need to pop some pills. Vitamin and mineral supplements can be crucial to ensuring good health. After years of undetected gut damage, it can take a long time for the body to heal. Supplements aid healing, providing missing nutrients that haven’t been properly absorbed and that aren’t present in many processed gluten-free foods.

Supplements tend to be far-reaching in their effects and benefits, says Christine Doherty, ND, a naturopathic doctor who specializes in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2003, Doherty is the medical director of Balance Point Natural Medicine in Milford, New Hampshire, and the founder of GlutenFreeVitamins.com, where she formulates C-Liac Vitality supplements geared for those on a gluten-free diet.

“It’s just common sense that supplements would be a good idea for a population that’s on a restricted diet,” Doherty says. “You want to make sure you’re getting a decent amount of vitamin D, magnesium and B complex, because those are really key deficiencies in the gluten-free population. Addressing those deficiencies is such an important part of recovery if you want to be well.”

“In many cases, supplements have side benefits. So if you’re taking a vitamin D supplement for your mood, it can also help to heal your gut, decrease your risk for diabetes, ease your heartburn and strengthen your bones,” Doherty says.

People should be getting proper nutrition from their diet—but that doesn’t always happen. We need supplements to help fill in the gap, says Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN, the nutrition coordinator for the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and lead nutrition author for CeliacNow.org. Dennis also runs a yearly gluten-free wellness retreat in which she reviews diet and the supplements necessary to restore and maximize health.

“A good multivitamin/mineral supplement can help you with the nutrients you might not even think are related to celiac,” Dennis says. “It’s part of healing from the inside out and maximizing your health on the gluten-free diet.”

“If you’re taking a multi that’s working for you, you should actually feel the benefits. It’s not like you’re going to turn into superwoman or superman but you should feel better,” she says.

Next: Dealing with gluten-free diet deficiencies.

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