Did you know that 40% of people diagnosed with celiac disease suffer from reduced bone mass, with 26% of them having full-blown osteoporosis?
The main reason for this is because of nutrient deficiencies, more specifically deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D. Untreated celiac disease leads to damage of the proximal intestine (or duodenum), where these important nutrients are absorbed.
The first step in addressing this issue is to treat the celiac disease with a strict gluten-free diet. Adhering to a gluten-free diet will allow the intestines to heal so they can start absorbing nutrients again.
Most celiac sufferers will initially need to supplement their diet with a combination of calcium and vitamin D as well as some magnesium. These nutrients work together to help improve overall bone health. Keep in mind supplementing alone isn’t enough; this should be done along with a gluten-free diet so you can repair the proximal intestine and start absorbing nutrients again.
Another good way to help build bone mass is through exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise. Things like weight lifting, climbing stairs, resistance exercises and even walking can help strengthen bone tissue.
Reduced bone mass is a particular concern for women going through menopause as decreasing levels of estrogen also lead to reduced bone mass.
Even if you know you do not suffer from a problem with bone mass or osteoporosis (or osteopenia), you should at least consider supplementing your diet with vitamin D as this is the most common nutrient deficiency among people suffering from any type or degree of gluten intolerance (including non-celiac gluten sensitivity).