Dr. Steven Wangen shares details about the connection between Celiac Disease and anemia, or iron deficiency. Learn more below, along with steps to take. For information on IBS and anemia, visit this page.
How are Celiac Disease and Anemia connected?
Celiac Disease (CD) can cause damage to the small intestine where iron, folate, and vitamin B12 are absorbed. Research has shown an incidence of an average of 4% anemia in newly diagnosed persons with CD in America.
Iron and folate anemia’s are seen more often in people with CD because these nutrients are absorbed in the upper two parts of the intestine where damage can occur in earlier stages of CD. When CD progresses, the lower part of the small intestine can be damaged and cause vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you have had ongoing anemia and underlying medical conditions are ruled out, it is recommended to ask a physician about testing for CD. It is also recommended to test for CD if you have been taking iron supplements and experience no improvement in blood iron levels.
The Good News + Next Steps:
Once a person diagnosed with CD has begun a gluten-free diet, their small intestine will begin to heal and allow nutrients to be absorbed. It is important to give the gluten-free diet time to do its magic because it may take between 2-18 months until nutritional deficiencies are corrected. Think positive!
Discuss with your physician or dietician about the proper supplementation and diet for your anemia. Then choose foods that help restore your health.
Foods high in iron:
Liver, seafood, lean meat, poultry, legumes, dark green vegetables.
Foods high in folate:
Green leafy vegetables, organ meats, lean beef, orange juice, eggs, fish, dry beans, lentils, asparagus, broccoli.
Foods high in vitamin B12:
All animal products– meat, eggs, milk, dairy products. Vegans require supplementation.
Other things to know about treating anemia:
Foods contain two different forms of iron– heme and nonheme iron. Heme iron is found in animal products and is absorbed at a higher rate than nonheme iron, the iron found in grains, vegetables, and fruit. Eat more meats for better iron absorption!
Vitamin C also increases iron absorption! Try eating citrus fruits or greens when you take your iron.
What do I do if iron supplements upset my stomach?
Consume iron supplements with vitamin C-rich foods. Also take supplements with meals; consult your physician about the amount of time you need to take your supplement. Iron taken with meals often requires longer treatment.
Folic acid and Vitamin B12 can be taken as supplements. Consult your physician about the proper supplement for you.
photos courtesy of IBS Treatment Center
This excerpt comes from the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. GIG is a nonprofit 501c3 national organization providing support for per persons with gluten intolerances, in order to live healthy, productive lives. Regional GIG Branches provide support at a local level.