Gluten Intolerance & Vitamin D Deficiency

on Feb 22
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Vitamin D Deficiency is Epidemic in Scope

Vitamin D is a crucial component of not only healthy bones, but a protector against cancer, diabetes, and a strong immune system booster as well. Despite all these virtues, its common deficiency has gone largely unnoticed. Vitamin D deficiency is further exacerbated by malabsorption, which is very common among those who have gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
gluten intolerance causes vitamin D deficiency
A reader wrote in that he has gluten intolerance and low Vitamin D levels despite supplementation for over 6 months. He wanted some information on why that might occur.

Gluten Intolerance & Vitamin D Go Hand in Hand

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.  Gluten intolerance, especially celiac disease, creates malabsorption of nutrients. But exactly what you’ll malabsorb and to what degree is somewhat unique to individual patients depending where their intestine is most damaged.

The villi(finger like projection which line the small intestine) help to emulsify and absorb fat. These villi are frequently eroded with celiac disease and fat absorption is thereby compromised. The inability to adequately absorb fat will not only affect absorption of vitamins D, E and A, but it will drastically affect hormone, creating hormonal imbalance as well. Hormones are made from cholesterol – fat.

Why Does Deficiency Continue on a Gluten Free Diet?

In the case of this reader, he had been gluten-free for some time. Removal of gluten should, ideally, result in the healing of the villi and normalization of absorption. When that doesn’t occur then we know that something else is compromising healing. I wish I could say that this was an unusual scenario, but it isn’t.  In fact it is more the norm. Eliminating gluten, while a critical first step, is typically insufficient to restore normal function to the small intestine and thereby the total health of the body.

Why? Frequently an individual has an intestinal infection, poor balance of good bacteria, or some other inflammatory factor that is preventing healing. That cause must be identified and treated quickly.

What Type of Vitamin D is Best?

Another possibility is that the vitamin D being taken is not the best quality. I recommend vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) for my patients in a liquid form. The base is olive oil so that’s what it tastes like.

It is truly important for everyone to know their vitamin D level. But it is especially critical if you’re gluten intolerant. Follow-up in a few months to ensure that what you’re taking is working to optimize your levels is also key.

Finally, work with a clinician who utilizes clinical nutrition or naturopathy so that they have the tools to assess if the small intestine is healing properly. It is frustrating to work so hard to maintain a gluten-free diet or take supplements when damage is continuing to occur that prevents health restoration. Such a program is not difficult, but it must be done.

Please let me know how I can assist you. Here at HealthNOW we are a destination clinic, seeing patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to help!
To your good health,

Dr Vikki M. Petersen, DC , CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

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