Celiac disease is a disorder that, when triggered, essentially causes the body to attack itself. A protein called gluten sets it off; gluten is a protein compound found in the seeds of various branches of the grass family. This includes such common foods as barley, rye, and wheat flours. Because the seeds are the part of those plants that are ground to make flour, gluten carries into flour and thus all products made with flour. In a person with celiac disease, when the immune system detects gluten, it recognizes it much in the same way that someone with a peanut allergy’s immune system recognizes peanuts. The reaction is immediate; anti-gluten antibodies are released. Antibodies are y-shaped blood compounds that ward off anything the immune system sees as threats– antibodies also ward off diseases. These antibodies travel to the small intestine and attack the intestinal lining. Unfortunately, there are small structures called villi that reside in the intestinal lining and are responsible for absorbing the nutrients from food that the human body needs to live. When the antibodies attack, they damage the villi, effectively disabling the proper processing of the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Because of this, one of the most common symptoms of celiac disease is malnourishment.
Celiac Disease & Calcium
One nutrient that is critical to proper body function is calcium. As any child who has been told to drink their milk knows, calcium is essential for proper bone strength. Calcium deficiency is one of the most problematic symptoms of celiac disease; insufficient bone mass, or osteopenia, can lead to innumerable problems including frequent broken bones. In children with celiac disease, osteopenia is especially dangerous, because if they do not have strong enough bones as a child, they may never develop fully and correctly. It is vital that children receive enough calcium as they are growing, so that, as the cliché goes, they will grow up “big and strong”.
One treatment of this issue is to take calcium supplements for Celiac patients. There are a few properties that any proper celiac supplement for calcium or other nutrients must have. Firstly, and somewhat obviously, they must be gluten-free. If they weren’t, they would be incredibly counterproductive! Secondly, the celiac calcium supplement should contain an extremely easily absorbable form of calcium so as to make the injured villi’s job easy as it can be. As long as a gluten-free calcium vitamin is selected, they are a great way to go. Just make sure to check in with your doctor first to make sure that you will be getting an appropriate amount of calcium– too much calcium can actually make the problem worse.