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If You Have Weak Bones, Get Checked For A Gluten Problem

Many people take vitamin D and calcium supplements because these nutrients are supposed to help strengthen bones. But if you have celiac disease and gluten has damaged your digestive tract, these nutrients won’t do you any good. You can’t absorb them.

Research at Washington University shows that people with osteoporosis (bone thinning) may be up to 22 times more likely to suffer from celiac (an autoimmune reaction to gluten) than people with normal bones.

“Our results suggest that as many as 3 to 4 percent of patients who have osteoporosis have the bone disease as a consequence of having celiac disease, which makes them unable to absorb normal amounts of calcium and vitamin D,” says principal investigator William F. Stenson, M.D. “(In our study) bone density — which is the way bone health is measured — improved dramatically on a gluten-free diet,” Stenson adds. “We believe the diet allowed intestines to heal and that permitted normal absorption normal of calcium and vitamin D to reverse bone loss.

“One of our conclusions is that the incidence of celiac disease in patients with osteoporosis is high enough to justify screening for everybody with osteoporosis,” Stenson notes. “The idea is that if a patient has osteoporosis as a consequence of celiac disease, the most direct way to correct their bone loss would be to put them on a gluten-free diet.”