Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that consists of an adverse reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in the seeds of plants in the grass family, which include common flour grains such as wheat, oats, rye, and more. When a celiac patient’s immune system detects gluten, it recognizes a threat and reacts accordingly, sending antibodies to attack the unknown substance. Those antibodies attack the intestines, damaging the intestinal lining and villi in the process. Because the villi, small, fingerlike structures coating the inside of the intestines enable the absorption of vitamins and minerals, the damage to them results in an inability to properly utilize nutrients.
Treatment of Celiac Disease
There are a wide variety of treatments for celiac disease. The most common is to begin a strict gluten-free diet so as not to provoke further attacks on the intestines. Celiac disease in general can be made livable by this step alone. However, because of the damage already done by the disease, symptoms may persist. Most symptoms are byproducts of malnourishment– for example, anemia, osteopenia, headaches and dizziness are cause by low iron absorption, low calcium absorption, and low general nutrition, respectively. Because of this, it is very common for physicians to prescribe any number of gluten-free dietary supplements.
A proper celiac supplement should have a few differences from ordinary supplements. First of all, as with anything ingested by a celiac patient, the vitamins must be gluten-free. Secondly, the supplements should contain only the most absorbable forms of the nutrients in question! That way, the damaged villi’s work is made as easy for them as possible, which could potentially speed up the healing process, which typically takes 5-10 years in adults but can take a lifetime depending on the degree of damage. Generally, celiac disease produces different symptoms in different patients, so it is important for patients to check with their doctors about which vitamins they should be trying to get more of. Another option is a celiac multivitamin. Though not quite as potent and targeted to one specific area, gluten-free multivitamins can be fantastic candidates due to the overall boost that they give. Although the gluten-free diet can be modified so that other foods replace the gap that gluten leaves, the damage to the intestines means that even these measures may not pay off well. This leaves gluten-free supplements as one of the few viable options remaining to combat the effects of celiac disease.