New US research has found that patients with celiac disease may also be deficient in many micronutrients, including vitamins B12 and D, which should be treated at the same time as diagnosis of the disease say researchers.
Carried out by a team at Mayo Clinic, the new study looked at 309 adults who had been newly diagnosed with celiac disease at the clinic between 2000 and 2014.
In addition to suffering from the disease, the researchers also found that many patients also had micronutrient deficiencies at the time of diagnosis. Zinc deficiency was found to be the most common deficiency, observed in 59.4 percent of patients. Other deficiencies included vitamins B12 and D, folate, iron, and copper.
The findings, due to be published in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggest that health practitioners should be aware that those with celiac disease may be deficient in certain nutrients, and that these deficiencies should be addressed at the time of diagnosis.
Weight loss and had a low body weight, both of which are commonly associated with the disease, were in fact found to be less common than micronutrient deficiencies, with weight loss seen in only 25.2 percent of patients.
"It was somewhat surprising to see the frequency of micronutrient deficiencies in this group of newly diagnosed patients, given that they were presenting fewer symptoms of malabsorption," commented primary author Adam Bledsoe, M.D.
"Our study suggests that the presentation of celiac disease has changed from the classic weight loss, anemia and diarrhea, with increasing numbers of patients diagnosed with nonclassical symptoms," added Dr. Bledsoe.
"Micronutrient deficiencies remain common in adults, however, and should be assessed."
These deficiencies may also have implications for health, although what they be may remains unknown say the researchers.
"Further studies are needed to better define the implications of the deficiencies, optimal replacement strategies and follow-up," says Dr. Bledsoe.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Over time eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing some nutrients, leading to symptoms such as diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, and weight loss. There is no cure, although following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms.