News - Coeliacs may need more vitamin D and K
Coeliac disease is a medical condition whereby the body’s immune system launches an inappropriate attack against a protein in certain grains called gluten. When people with coeliac disease eat foods containing gluten, such as wheat, rye and barley, the resulting immune attack leads to damage of the delicate lining in the gut. This makes it much more difficult to absorb certain nutrients.
In particular, children and teenagers with coeliac disease have an increased risk of bone density problems due to malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins, inflammation and undernutrition. To investigate these effects, scientists studied the bone mineral density and vitamin status of a group of coeliac children aged 3-17 years at both diagnosis and after one year on a gluten-free diet.
The results showed that bone mineral density was low in the children both at diagnosis and after one year on a gluten-free diet. In fact, 43% of the children had low vitamin D levels at the time of diagnosis and 25% had low vitamin K status. After one year on a gluten-free diet, all the children had built up sufficient vitamin K stores, but over half of those that were originally deficient in vitamin D still had low levels.
Commenting on their results the researchers wrote: “Children and adolescents with coeliac disease are at risk for suboptimal bone health at time of diagnosis and after one year on gluten-free diet; likely due in part to suboptimal vitamin D/K status. Therapeutic strategies aimed at optimising vitamin K/D intake may contribute to improved BMD in children with coeliac disease.”
Mager DR et al. Vitamin D and K status influences bone mineral density and bone accrual in children and adolescents with celiac disease. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Oct 5.