If you have a gluten intolerance, you may have been suffering from abdominal pain and discomfort for an extended period of time, not knowing the pain was due to the inability to process gluten, according to the website Up to Date. When you make the switch to a gluten-free diet, it’s important to consider nutrients you may be missing--such as vitamin D--and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you get enough of this nutrient in your daily life.
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Gluten intolerance also is known as celiac disease, according to Up to Date. Being diagnosed with celiac disease signifies that your body does not respond well to digesting gluten. The result is damage to the small intestine, which can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. Gluten is found in many breads, such as wheat, rye and barley. Prepackaged foods may also be prepared with gluten.
A physician may diagnose gluten intolerance via a blood test and a biopsy of your small intestine. During the blood test, your physician may also test for nutritional deficiencies, according to Lab Tests Onlie. Those who are gluten intolerant often are deficient in vitamin D, a vitamin necessary for bone health. If you are found to be vitamin D deficient, your physician may recommend a bone density scan known as a DEXA scan to test your bone health.
Gluten intolerance and vitamin D are linked because gluten intolerance is related to nutritional absorption. When the body cannot digest gluten, the small intestine becomes damaged and may be unable digest other nutrients, according to Dr. Vikki Peterson, a physician and author of books about gluten intolerance, on The Gluten Doctors resource website. Once such example is vitamin D, which is a vitamin typically absorbed in the small intestine.
When left untreated or undiagnosed, gluten intolerance can cause silent conditions, such as osteoporosis, according to Lab Tests Online. This is because vitamin D is required to absorb calcium, the mineral responsible for healthy bones, according to the Mayo Clinic. Osteoporosis is known as a “silent” disease because you may not experience symptoms until your bones have been severely damaged. For this reason, diagnosis and treatment of gluten intolerance is vital to bone health.
You can fight a vitamin D deficiency related to gluten intolerance through food sources, supplementation and even sun exposure. The skin can use ultraviolet light to create vitamin D, according to the Mayo Clinic. Only a small amount of sun exposure is required, however--10 minutes typically is sufficient. Food sources such as mackerel, salmon, egg yolks, cod liver oil and fortified milk also have vitamin D, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you choose to take a vitamin D supplement, your physician should make a dosage recommendation based on the severity of your gluten intolerance.