Celiac Disease is a condition in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale. If you have a gluten allergy, consuming foods with gluten can damage your small intestine which results in malabsorption of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. One of the side effects of untreated celiac disease is osteoporosis, a disease that decreases your bone density and makes bones thin and brittle. Low bone density often manifests itself by backaches, stooped posture, and fractures of the wrist, spine or hip.
Three out of four adults with untreated celiac disease and overt malabsorption at diagnosis also have bone loss. According to a research review in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, having celiac disease is associated with a 30 percent increased risk of any fracture and a 69% increased risk of hip fracture.
If you have celiac disease, it is important to be under the care of a physician who can help you monitor your condition. To prevent bone loss, it is essential to:
- Attend all your doctor appointments. Your doctor will perform routine tests that will check your gluten levels as well as your bone density.
- Follow a gluten-free diet. If you consume gluten, you are harming your digestive tract and preventing your body from absorbing essential nutrients to maintain bone density.
- Consume foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D. Gluten-free foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D include leafy greens, almonds, figs, fortified orange juice, salmon and eggs.
- Take a good multivitamin supplement. Your doctor can suggest a multivitamin that is high in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K and the B vitamins (Source: Today’s Dietician).
If your celiac disease has gone unchecked for months or even years, you may be jeopardizing your bone health. A popular misconception is that only women suffer from osteoporosis, but men are also susceptible to bone loss.