If you shop the health food aisles of your local grocery store, you’re likely noticing more and more items labeled, “Gluten Free.” Gluten sensitivity is on the rise, almost reaching epidemic proportions.
Research estimates that 18 million Americans suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearing House, that’s 1 in 133 Americans.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a combination of two proteins found in wheat and other grain products. It is responsible for giving bread its elasticity or chewy texture (the word gluten comes from the Latin word for glue). But gluten is found in a surprising number of foods including soy sauce, beer and flavored coffee, making it a hidden danger for those with gluten sensitivity.
What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity describes those individuals who cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease but who lack the same antibodies as seen in celiac disease. Early research suggests that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is an innate immune response, as opposed to an adaptive immune response (such as autoimmune) or allergic reaction.
Gluten sensitivity shares many symptoms with celiac disease. However, according to a collaborative study published in 2012, individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity also have a prevalence of extraintestinal or non-GI symptoms, such as headache, “foggy mind,” joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms or fingers. Symptoms usually appear hours or days after gluten has been ingested, a response typical for innate immune conditions like non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Unfortunately, there is currently no test to determine non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It is diagnosed through exclusion criteria by first testing for wheat allergy and celiac disease, and if those tests are negative, an elimination diet and a monitored reintroduction of gluten-containing foods are used. A significant deficiency in vitamin D can also signal gluten sensitivity.
Dangers of D Deficiency
Gluten sensitivity can disrupt absorption of nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin deficiency can occur if damage to the lining of the intestinal tract affects the ability of cells to absorb nutrients. In some individuals with gluten sensitivity, the inflammatory response is to attack the villi that line the intestines. The villi are small fingerlike projections that help your body absorb nutrients. When the villi become shorter or damaged, they are less effective. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is particularly susceptible to malabsorption.
Recent research has shown just how powerful vitamin D is. Deficiency in this crucial vitamin puts you at an increased risk of:
- Cardiovascular Disease – Research conducted at Harvard University among nurses found that women with low vitamin D levels had a 67 percent increased risk of developing hypertension.
- Cancer – Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center discovered a connection between high vitamin D intake and reduced risk of breast cancer. These findings, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, revealed that increased doses of vitamin D were linked to a 75 percent reduction in overall cancer growth and 50 percent reduction in tumor cases among those already having the disease.
If you suffer from gluten sensitivity, consider adding a high quality vitamin D supplement to your diet. CalMax Plus offers 2000 IU of Vitamin D per serving. Plus, it contains calcium, magnesium and Vitamin C, which can help with the non-GI symptoms of gluten sensitivity, like headaches and joint pain.