Nutrient deficiencies and the gluten free diet

By Deborah Gerszberg, RD, CNSC, CDN
Clinical Nutritionist, The Pancreas Center

A review of the literature indicates several nutrient inadequacies associated with a GF diet. These include B vitamins (as wheat is often fortified), vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, iron, and fiber. To remedy this, eat a plant based diet with plenty of vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains (GF whole grains include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff and oats labeled as GF), and fruit.

To make sure you are getting enough iron, have your steak (or turkey, clams, mussels, oysters, or sardines) with a vitamin C rich food (broccoli, bell pepper, brussel sprouts, strawberries, orange, and cauliflower to name a few) and separate from dairy. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron while calcium competes with iron for absorption.

In addition, as a result of the GF diet, some of the beneficial bacteria in your gut may be reduced. Therefore, choose food sources with a healthy dose of probiotics such as sauerkraut or kefir.

Make sure your doctor is aware if you are on a GF diet and ask them to monitor you (with bloodwork, during your annual check-up) for the nutrient deficiencies you are at risk for.

If you are thinking about going GF, be sure to talk to your doctor about getting tested for celiac disease first. Then, try to eliminate gluten for 2-3 weeks and see if you feel any better. If you don’t notice any positive changes, avoiding gluten may not be worth the effort. However you may have additional food sensitives contributing to your symptoms, in which case you may benefit from professional guidance from a registered dietitian.

Check out next week’s blog for gluten free meal ideas and recipes!