Vitamin D is a crucial component of not only healthy bones, but a protector against cancer, diabetes, and a strong immune system booster as well.
Despite all these virtues, its common deficiency has gone largely unnoticed. Vitamin D deficiency is further exacerbated by malabsorption, which is very common among those who have gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.
A reader (who is gluten intolerant) wrote in that he has low Vitamin D levels despite supplementation for over six months. He wanted some information on why that might occur.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. Gluten intolerance, especially celiac disease, creates malabsorption of nutrients. But exactly what you'll malabsorb, and to what degree, is somewhat unique to individual patients depending where their intestine is most damaged.
The villi (the finger-like projections which line the small intestine) help to emulsify and absorb fat. These villi are frequently eroded with celiac disease—and fat absorption is thereby compromised.
The inability to adequately absorb fat will not only affect absorption of vitamins D, E and A, but it will drastically affect hormones—creating a hormonal imbalance as well. (Hormones are made from cholesterol—fat.)
Why Does a Vitamin D Deficiency Continue Despite a Gluten-Free Diet?
In the case of this reader, he had been gluten-free for some time. Removal of gluten should, ideally, result in the healing of the villi and normalization of absorption. When that doesn't occur, then we know that something else is compromising healing.
I wish I could say that this was an unusual scenario, but it isn't. In fact, it is more the norm.
Eliminating gluten, while an important and critical first step, is typically insufficient to restore normal function to the small intestine and thereby the total health of the body. But why?
Frequently an individual has an intestinal infection, poor balance of good bacteria, or some other inflammatory factor that is preventing healing. That cause must be identified and treated quickly.
Another possibility is that the vitamin D being taken is not the best quality.
What Type of Vitamin D Supplementation is Best? And What Should Our Levels Be?
For my patients, I recommend vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in a liquid form. The base is olive oil so that's what it tastes like.
It is truly important for everyone to know their vitamin D level, so you need to get tested. And how much Vitamin D is ideal? For answers, read my blog, “Is Low Vitamin D Causing You a Leaky Gut?”. This is especially critical if you're gluten intolerant.
Follow up after a few months to ensure that the vitamin D you're taking is working to optimize your levels is also key.
Finally, work with a clinician who utilizes clinical nutrition or naturopathic medicine so that they have the tools to assess if the small intestine is healing properly. It is frustrating to work so hard to maintain a gluten-free diet or take supplements when damage is continuing to occur that prevents health restoration. Such a program is not difficult, but it must be done.
Please let me know how I can assist you. Or call us to schedule a Free Health Analysis: (408) 733-0400.
Here at HealthNOW we are a Destination Clinic and we see patients from across the country as well as internationally. We are here to help!
I look forward to hearing from you.
To your good health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”