If you're diagnosed with Celiac or gluten sensitivity, you'll need to verify your prescriptions and vitamins are gluten-free, and, depending on your religion, you may need a source of gluten free communion wafers.
Should Celiacs and Others Following a Gluten-Free Diet Be Taking Any Special Vitamins?
Ask this question to several different gastroenterologists -- or even Celiac specialists -- and you're likely to get equally as many different answers. After all, vitamin supplementation is still an area where doctors tend to disagree. Many feel vitamin supplements are a waste of money and that people can get what they need from a healthy, balanced diet. Others strongly feel that to promote optimum health, our bodies need the support of a range of vitamins and minerals, especially given the less-than-perfect state of most people's diets today.
You may already have your own preconceived notions about vitamins, but know this: If you've been suffering the effects of gluten for some time (especially if you just recently got diagnosed with Celiac), your intestines -- and overall health -- have been severely compromised. The body has been in a state of nutrient mal-absorption for quite some time. Some studies have shown that damage to the intestines can persist for years after beginning a gluten-free diet. So the body often needs a bit of extra help to restore itself, and taking vitamins can lend extra support to the healing process.
Gluten-free foods also are not required to be fortified with the same vitamins and minerals that "regular" foods, like cereals and breads, contain. So folks following a gluten-free diet may find it harder to get the required vitamins and minerals from their daily diet.
There are several nutrients you'll want to consider, starting with a good multivitamin. Digestive enzymes and probiotics can also be of benefit for anyone -- and again, especially for Celiacs. Of course, you'll need to make sure any vitamins you purchase are certified gluten-free. This can be obtained either directly from the bottle or by calling the company's toll-free number or visiting their website.
Gluten Free Prescription Drugs
It's important to verify that any prescription drugs you take are gluten-free. Your pharmacist should be able to help you with this -- or at least give you a toll-free number for customer inquiries. There is also a website called Gluten Free Drugs that contains information about gluten in medications as well as lists of prescription and over-the-counter medications that are gluten-free.
Gluten Free Communion
Practicing Christians often wonder how they will fully participate in Holy Communion if they cannot eat the bread or wafer (host).
The Catholic Church, in particular, is rooted in Scripture and Tradition. In keeping with the belief that Jesus used wheaten bread at the Last Supper, the Church has required that breads used for Communion be made with wheat and contain gluten.
Thanks to the research of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a company was found that produces wheat starch, which is wheat that has had most of its gluten removed. After much trial and error, the Benedictine Sisters were able to make low-gluten bread out of this special wheat starch and water. The gluten content is only .01%, or 100 PPM (parts per million). But it is the 37 micrograms that is significant, because the best current information shows that 10 milligrams per day should be safe.
The low-gluten wafers are made, stored, and shipped in a dedicated gluten-free environment. Best of all., these wafers meet both the stringent requirements of the Catholic Church as well as the requirements of the gluten-free community, as confirmed by data from the Center for Celiac Research.
You can order 30 wafers for $5.50 by calling 800-223-2772 or visiting their website.
Regular monitoring/blood work
One final note: Once you are on a gluten-free diet, there is typically no "follow up" required beyond regular check-ups with your doctor (about every 12-18 months), which is primarily for the purpose of running another full Celiac panel to check antibody levels. (If you are ever having symptoms, you clearly should see your doctor right away.) If antibody levels are out of the normal range, it indicates gluten is likely sneaking into your diet in some form or another (you may or may not have even noticed any symptoms), and you can work with your doctor or nutritionist to pinpoint the culprit.