Celiac Disease and Bone Density
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and weakening of bone tissue that causes bones to become brittle and more likely to break. The possible consequences of osteoporosis include fractures, loss of height, stooped posture, back and hip pain and breathing problems. People with this condition may break bones from a minor fall, or even from bumping into something. While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person’s disease, it can strike at any age. It affects more women than men.
What is Osteopenia?
Osteopenia refers to lower than normal bone density. Bone density loss in osteopenia is not as extreme as in osteoporosis. Some experts believe osteopenia is a sign of osteoporosis. Osteopenia does not always lead to osteoporosis, but should be monitored by a medical professional.
What is the Connection between Bone Disease and Celiac Disease?
- The exact link between celiac disease and excess bone loss remains unknown, however, there are several potential reasons for the relationship, such as:
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Calcium malabsorption
- Magnesium malabsorption
- Chronic inflammation
- The prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia in patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease may be as high as 75%
- Bone mineral density and vitamin D deficiencies have been found to improve on a strict gluten-free diet, but still may require supplementation to correct deficiencies. Do not start any dietary supplements without first talking to your healthcare provider
- Experts recommend that patients with celiac disease be evaluated and monitored for calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, as those with newly diagnosed celiac disease may experience temporary lactose intolerance and omitting dairy products from the diet can also create a risk for decreased bone density.
- It is important to discuss other sources of dietary calcium and Vitamin D with your dietitian or doctor.
Where Can I Learn More?
- National Osteoporosis Foundation
- International Osteoporosis Foundation
- National Institutes of Health
- Mayo Clinic
Do you or a family member suffer from osteoporosis or osteopenia? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.