Does Gluten-Free Diet Protect Children with Celiac Disease from Low Bone Density?

Merve Usta, MD and Nafiye Urganci, MD

Iran J Pediatr, Volume 24(4); August 2014

Hey guys, I kinda came across this article by accident, but found it interesting nonetheless as it definitely adds some credence as to why I spend my entire childhood on crutches with broken bones and sprains. Not to mention, that I was told I would need hip-replacement surgery by the time I was thirty-five because I was losing bone and there was nothing I could do about that.

  • Celiac disease (CD), a common cause of malabsorption in childhood, is an abnormal immuno-mediated response to the ingestion of gluten and other peptides from different cereals (wheat, barley, and rye) in genetically susceptible subjects. Life-long withdrawal of gluten from diet is the treatment of CD. 
  • Defective absorption of calcium and vitamin D secondary to small intestinal mucosal damage, secondary lactose malabsorption, increased endogenous calcium use, fecal loss, and impaired vitamin D absorption and pro-inflammatory cytokines may predispose derangements of bone and mineral metabolism in patients with CD. 
  • Skeletal diseases such as rickets, osteomalacia or osteoporosis may be observed in patients with CD. Compliance with a gluten-free diet (GFD) reverses the histological changes in the intestine and also the biochemical evidence of calcium malabsorption.
  • Patients with CD are at increased risk of fractures, particularly in the peripheral skeleton

Interesting correlations that they have drawn with the defective absorption of calcium and vitamin D. And imagine that compliance with a gluten-free diet reverse the histological changes in the intestine and evidence of calcium malabsorption. I’m sure more testing will be done regarding this but how incredible is it to even think that just changing to a gluten-free diet could have an impact on your bone density because of better absorption of essential vitamin D and calcium.

If you were loosing bone and were told by eating a certain way that you could reverse the damage wouldn’t you sit up and pay attention?

Just something to think about and to consider when making food choices that could have a significant affect on your health and your bones.

* Here’s my little disclaimer, I’m not a doctor, researcher, immunologist, just someone deeply concerned and trying to help as many peeps as I can make conscious, good, healthy choices for their health and their bodies when living life with gluten challenges. I have not been compensated or obligated to write this article, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own!