32% of celiac patients have iron deficiency anemia

Of people diagnosed with celiac disease (CD) 46% had decreased iron storage, and 32% had anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a common symptom of celiac disease. Unfortunately a study shows that practicing hematologists infrequently screen for CD in patients with iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the blood lacks the normal number of red blood cells. Red blood cells are important for carrying oxygen to tissues and organs, and iron helps red blood cells carry that oxygen. When the body lacks iron, it also lacks the capacity to carry sufficient oxygen throughout your body resulting in a broad range of symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • weakness
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • pallor
  • heartbeat irregularities or chest pain
  • cold or numb hands and feet
  • brittle nails

Like most nutritional deficiencies that occur in people with celiac disease, anemia develops because CD is destructive and inflammatory and damages the lining of the small intestine. The portion of the intestine affected is called the duodenum and is where most nutritional absorption occurs. CD damages the duodenum by eliminating the absorptive villi that are covered by epithelium. Removal of the absorptive surface in the duodenum prevents the absorption of essential nutrients such as iron. B vitamins, such as B-12 and folic acid, are also essential for red blood cell formation and patients with celiac disease are also deficient in these important nutrients. Inflammation in the small intestine may also block the proper absorption and the transfer of iron across the epithelium.Celiac disease may prevent the active absorption of vitamin B-12 in the ileum, resulting in megaloblastic anemia. Therefore, the causes of anemia in celiac patients may be multifactorial. As a result the level of iron that makes it to the bloodstream – even when consuming foods high in iron – is significantly diminished. Iron-deficiency anemia is just one of several health issues that develop in CD and which may be improved with proper nutrition.

The Role of Red Blood Cells

Why are healthy red blood cells critical to good health? Red blood cells carry oxygen to all organs. Without enough oxygen, organs with high metabolic demands such as muscles and the brain cannot function normally. This results in fatigue, failure to concentrate, and depression. Iron deficiency following celiac disease may result first in a decrease of hemoglobin, without affecting the number of red blood cells. Even at this stage the patient will experience fatigue. Later in the course of the disease, if iron stores become low, the number of red blood cells becomes decreased, or anemia develops. Studies show that 32% of patients diagnosed with celiac disease have a concurrent diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia. These patients may not respond to oral supplementation until a gluten free diet is instituted, and they may require initially intravascular transfusions of iron. It is often recommended these patients should also receive intra-muscular injections of vitamin B-12. Once a gluten free diet is instituted, and the intestine begins to heal, such patients should take iron supplementation daily for an indefinite period. These patients should be monitored by their physician using yearly blood collection for iron studies including hematocrit, hemoglobin, red cell size, transferrin saturation and ferritin.

Getting enough Iron

Patients with celiac disease and anemia may achieve improvement by including more iron-rich foods in their diets as well as foods with more vitamin C, which helps iron be absorbed. But for many CD patients, getting the nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy means taking supplements to counteract the body’s inability to absorb nutrients like iron. Malabsorption is compounded by gluten-free food choices remaining few and far between, and maintaining healthy eating can be problematic.

Because CD prevents the body from absorbing nutrients, choosing supplements that provide the most readily available form of vitamins and minerals is critical to ensuring enough of these nutrients “make it through” the physiological obstacle course set up by CD so they may be absorbed. Many gluten-free supplements fail to offer nutrients in a form that’s easy for CD patients to digest, which means the benefits they offer essentially go to waste.

CeliVites Blood Health is designed specifically to address these issues. Developing red blood cells in the bone marrow requires not only iron, but also folic acid, vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-2 or riboflavin. Blood Health provides all of these in one capsule, with Vitamin C, which increases iron absorption. Blood Health differs from other supplements because it contains the chelated form of iron, Ferrochel or ferrous bisglycinate chelate, which has up to 3 times improved absorption over ferrous sulfate and fewer gastrointestinal side effects. The B vitamins are in the co-enzyme or bioavailable form. Folic acid is supplied as 5-MTHF or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, because a sub-set of people do not have the enzyme required for conversion of folic acid to the active coenzyme form, 5-MTHF. This entire system is designed for maximum absorption and is the only one like it without a prescription.

“The positive results we have heard from our customers has been very gratifying. We are so pleased to hear that CeliVites Blood Health has improved the health of our customers.” – Leigh Reynolds, founder of Gluten Free Therapeutics, maker of CeliVites


Gluten Free Therapeutics developed CeliVites nutritional supplements to overcome the challenge of proper and balanced nutrition facing people with celiac disease and its secondary conditions such as iron deficiency anemia. All CeliVites products contain the most absorbable forms of vitamins and minerals including iron for increased bioavailability. Each batch is tested for gluten so there’s no risk of gluten cross-contamination that pervades the gluten-free food and supplement industries. CeliVites are available in several formulations. See the complete line here.

This original article is made possible by Gluten Free Therapeutics. Our mission is to educate, inform, and provide the most effective nutritional products possible to allow those with celiac disease and serious gluten intolerances to heal their bodies. CeliVites complete line of superior gluten free supplements includes multivitamin/multimineral supplements, iron supplements, and calcium supplements for people living with celiac disease. All CeliVites products are designed to help you heal, restore and rebuild your body, because going gluten free isn’t enough! 

Comments ()

  1. GS says:

    I was giving my newborn the doctor prescribed iron drops for her when she was born. But once she put on 10 lbs. I knew she’d be fine with just formula. So…I started taking a drop or two when feeling super sluggish or heart palpitations…dizziness. It works, just takes 20 min. or so and I start slowly gaining strength. Got two kids and that zaps me and when glutened I’m double zapped.

  2. lorraine says:

    I’ve become more tired as time goes on even though my labs are within normal limits..I also don’t have the strength that I use to.

  3. Kathy Brown says:

    I am female, age 59. I have always been anemic. Found out about 2 yrs ago I have CD. I also have IC (intercistal cystitus) and I am lactose intolerant. I am 2nd stage kidney disease, iron deficient, B deficient, IBS, OAB, D deficient, and stay exhauted all the time. I care for my 78 yr old mother full time in my home. I work part time (or as much as I can) to keep up with our everyday bills. I just got diagnosed for Fibromyalgia, Degenerative disc in my upper and lower spine. I just finished a sleep study test and now I will be using a machine to be able to sleep.I will be taking a new medicine to help with my jumping and kicking my legs. I also have Ocular Degeneration. I see doubles.My optomatrist is a very kind person. Can you help me with any of my medical problems. I really would like a chance to work

    1. holly trop says:

      Kathy, I have very the same health problems, with neuropathy, I always feel blah Disc disease too.Crazy. Would love to talk with you and compare stories?
      Message me please I am not great with the computer, Email is a pain to many advertisements to delete.Thank You….

    2. george powell says:

      I am male 72 yrs old and self diagnosed with clinical confirmation from my doctor. My stalls went from pale yellow to normal after keeping a gluten free diet for 5 months. Unfortunately my thyroid is over active and I get little sleep. I too should ask for a sleep study test. Since I started taking iron my restless leg has improved greatly and I have also upped my exercise routine by 30%.

  4. Dotty Greer says:

    I was diagnosed 46 years ago. Only 1Doctor knew enough about the disease to help. He suggested that a vitamin B12 shot be given once or twice a month. If I miss a shot my mouth gets ulcerated and is very painful. Contamination is also a problem when eating out. All surfaces should we cleaned off

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