Supplementing a Gluten-Free Diet
Individuals following a gluten-free diet may be susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. In those with celiac disease, gluten damages the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of nutrients. Until the intestine has had a chance to heal, this can cause deficiencies. In addition, after the intestine has healed, nutrient deficiencies may occur due to the fact that many processed gluten-free grain products are not enriched with vitamins and minerals, unlike their gluten-containing counterparts. Inadequate consumption of these nutrients may put individuals at increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, neurological decline and other health problems. It is important to include plenty of nutrient-dense foods in the gluten-free diet, such as: whole grains (e.g. quinoa, gluten-free oats, teff), vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts & seeds, meats and dairy products. At times a supplement may be necessary as well. This should be discussed with a dietitian and/or physician. Supplementation should never take the place of a healthy, varied diet. However, the right supplement may help improve the nutrient status of individuals who cannot get the nutrients they need from diet alone.
Know your needs
- Consult with a physician and/or dietitian who can help you accurately identify your unique nutrient status and what your shortfall nutrients may be.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a set of recommended intake values for nutrients for individuals aged 4 years and older. These daily values (DV’s) are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Daily values for nutrients that are potentially deficient in a gluten-free diet are listed in the table to the left.
- For recommendations specific to age, gender, and for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, visit the Office of Dietary Supplements Nutrient Recommendations web page.*
Know your supplement
Many supplements use excipients, or “fillers,” which may contain gluten. The source of the excipient may be wheat, or it may be a gluten-free source such as corn. Read the ingredient list on the label and, if in doubt, check with your pharmacist or the manufacturer of the supplement to ensure that it is gluten-free. Remember, wheat free is not the same as gluten-free.
- If you would like to investigate the quality of a supplement, there are currently three companies that conduct independent investigations and certify supplements. The three companies are U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International.
- Read the supplement label and facts.
For more information on supplements, visit:
- Office of Dietary Supplements at https://ods.od.nih.gov/
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, information on Dietary Supplements at
This article has been assessed and approved by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.