One of the most devastating effects of celiac disease is the malabsorption of nutrients from foods. Various food components, such as calcium, vitamins, and iron are absorbed from special segments of the GI tract.
For example, calcium, iron, fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins D and E), folic acid, and sugar are absorbed from the first segments of the intestine, and vitamin B12 is absorbed from segments farther away.
A common misdiagnosis is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is estimated that 36 percent of celiac disease patients were first diagnosed as having IBS. In some people, only a short segment of the intestine is involved. This reduces their GI symptoms but makes diagnosis more difficult since an intestinal biopsy may miss the segments that are causing the symptoms.
Over time, people with celiac disease often develop other autoimmune disorders, especially when celiac begins in childhood. These disorders include:
• Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (hypothyroidism)
• Type 1 diabetes
• Sjorgren’s syndrome (dry mouth and eyes)
• Dermatitis herpetiformis (intensely itchy skin with blisters)
• Alopecia areata (loss of some or all hair)
A gluten-free diet repairs damage to the intestine and cures the problems of malabsorption, especially if the problem is diagnosed early.
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