Friday, October 02, 2009

Are Vitamins the Cure for Celiac Disease?

Are Vitamins the Cure for Celiac Disease? Well, perhaps not a cure, but they sure may help avoid some of the problems that may otherwise arise from Celiac Disease, according to the results of a 2009 research team in the Netherlands that investigated the effect of vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 daily supplements on homocysteine levels in patients with coeliac disease. The results were VERY encouraging (in my opinion, at least), and suggestive of some protective and/or healing-helping functions directly enabled or extended by these B-Vitamins.

The study did a side-by-side comparison of those with coeliac disease to "healthy control individuals" (i.e., those without Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance), and the findings were quite clearly in favor of encouraging B-Vitamin use among Celiac patients - especially B6 and Folate (oddly enough, this study did not result in a correlation between B12 consumption and a reduction in homocysteine levels that other studies have):
They found that patients with celiac disease and using vitamin supplements had higher serum vitamin B6 (P = 0.003), folate (P < p =" 0.012)" p =" 0.035," p =" 0.007," style="font-weight: bold;">Lower plasma homocysteine levels were found in patients using vitamin supplements than in patients who did not (P = 0.001) or healthy controls (P = 0.003). However, vitamin B6 and folate, not vitamin B12, were significantly and independently associated with homo-cysteine levels.
Well, we need to keep in mind here that the study was about homocysteine levels in patients with Celiac, and the effect of vitamin-dosing on those levels. And I forgot to mention that the reason that lower homocysteine levels are important (in general): above-normal homocysteine levels are correlated as strong risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Thus, in theory, lowering your homocysteine levels is a good thing if you want to avoid cardiovascular problems.

The study's findings about a lesser correlation between Vitamin B-12 and homocysteine levels goes against some other studies I have read about B-12 being effective for homocysteine lowering (in the normal population), but perhaps it is less of the direct-cause for high-homocysteine levels in Celiac patients particularly? I do not know, but I will still take my large doses of Vitamin-B12 regardless, as they make me feel better. (See my prior Gluten-Free Blog post on getting B12 to absorb well, without B12 shots, by taking sublingual B12 - i.e., under-the-tongue B12)

Now, for a final bit of science / techie conclusion quoted from the study-excerpt I read, here is the summary statement of why B-Vitamins / Folate is a good thing for us Gluten-Free folks:
The study demonstrates in agreement with earlier findings, that both the presence and the severity of coeliac disease were determinants of homocysteine levels. The regular use of B vitamin supplements was associated with higher serum vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 and lower plasma homocysteine levels in patients with coeliac disease. Furthermore, B vitamin supplements seem to have a protective role against the effect of villous atrophy on homocysteine levels, irrespective to the genetic susceptibility status as manifested by carrying the C677T polymorphism of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.
I want my villi protected! :)

OK, so it is perhaps time to make sure you take some B-vitamins as part of your daily routine. As always though, consult with a doctor about large doses of vitamins, folate, etc... there really CAN be side-effects with some. Vitamin B-6 for example, in large doses, can lead to some types of neuropathy (i.e., numbness in hands/feet) and other nerve problems that you likely do not want. The only vitamin in this study that is nearly completely safe at extremely high doses (as a multiple of "RDA") is Vitamin B-12, but I will leave the dosing up to you and your doctor regardless.

Note: the excerpt I was reading was from here.


The Gluten-Free 'Dish' said...

Your words are wise and I hope others take your advice. I didn't know that I had celiac disease before my boys were born, and #1 son has spina bifida occulta which is caused by the mom not having enough folate. I was supplementing months before and while pregnant, but I must not have been absorbing due to the undiagnosed celiac. My blood testing from my traditional doc did not indicate B12 insufficiency, in fact it was highly out of range! Thankfully, my naturopath ordered a Comprehensive Organic acid test from Metametrix Labs which did indicate all the nutrients you mention as insuffient. Yes, taking supplements is important!

Erin E Lyon-GF Fitness said...

Excellent info Mike, thanks for sharing that. I'm going to link to this from a post I did on nutritional deficiencies common in celiac disease.

CinnamonQuill (jenn) said...

Wow, this is extremely interesting. Now I've got to read up on B6 supplements (suggestions?) and B6 containing foods. I admit to being someone who is a bit skeptical about daily multivitamins, but more and more I think that, taking my celiac into consideration, a mv/supplement may really benefit. Thank you!

Lynn said...

As per my MD, I take a multivitamin daily and calcium twice a day. I usually buy Centrum brand, especially if it is on sale and I have a coupon. I order the calcium on line from HSN, Andrew Lessman's brand. They are easy to swallow. My levels have been good when my blood was checked. So for me, the vitamins are good insurance for those days when dinner is not exactly what the doctor ordered.

Dushka said...

Mike, I am doing research on gluten after a friend was diagnosed with celiac disease. Your blog has been invaluable to me. Thank you so much for working so hard on it.

suz said...

Hey Mike,
I'm not surprised by these findings really because most Celiacs are vitamin B & D deficient, sometimes without even knowing it. Naturally, I think the addition of those vitamins would improve the health and energy level and all around feeling of living with Celiac. I'd be interested in really reading the whole study.

Now as for a multiple vitamin be useful? Many have gluten in them so if you find one without it I'm sure it will help :)

William Beverly said...

Thanks for writing about Vitamins and Celiac Disease. I have gradually lost much of my intestines to Crohn's so it is difficult to attribute, but I often suffer from a lack of energy. Years ago, my doctor prescribed B-12 injections.
I have been taking some supplements (i.e., B12 [sublingual], Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Vitas D and C) and this has seemed to help me feel more energetic. But I am always looking for good information about this.
Earlier this year, I penned a few entries about Energy and Gluten-Free Living. One can find them at: .
I even started trying to develop more recipes using high energy foods such as Cabbage, Garbanzos etc..
Good luck with this topic. And keep up the good work!

Unknown said...

All vitamins are not created equal. The majority of the vitamins on the market today are synthetic and closer to dirt then food. A simple law of Nature is if it does not come from food via plants you cannot properly absorb it and it may cause you problems. Many people think that if it says USP that that means it is perfect. No, it only means it is pure and has nothing to do with its ability to be useful to your body. So I am afraid that you must read vitamin labels carefully and look for the words Whole Food or Made from
Whole Foods not Food Based that is a trick. That is why there is really no difference between cheep vitamins from a department store and 95% of the vitamins from a health food store. Other then the price and a fancy label they are the same thing, junk. Most vitamins on the market are made by just a few companies and most of them are pharmaceutical drug companies. And they could care less if the vitamin does you any good, their interest is that you buy the product. Someone from that industry told me that B12 from cyanocobalamin can be made from sewage sludge as long as they clean it up for USP approval. Vitamins made from whole foods are different they absorb completely so the numbers are realistic not like you see 100's or 1000's times the RDA on labels. That is a ridiculous trick to get you to buy. So do a little studying before you buy and keep in mind humans should eat only food not chemicals, dirt or garbage.

Vitamins said...

Living life on the gluten-free diet may seem like quite an adventure but, the health and well being that will be experienced, will far out-weigh any inconvenience it may cause. Working closely with a knowledgeable physician, and practicing wise self-management skills, will help a person with celiac disease live life to the fullest!

Warth Publishing Inc said...

Doe anyone know of folate and B-6 source of vitamins that are gluten free?

Mike Eberhart said...

Rolf, I tend to get NOW (brand) vitamins, as they are all GF from what I have seen. There are quite a few other brands I have noticed that now say no gluten, wheat, etc on the label. Shouldn't be too hard to find one, even at Walmart or such. Regards, m