Author Archives: Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Can Medicine Make You Sicker? Common Drugs that Deplete Nutrients

medications that cause nutrient deficienciesWhether due to malabsorption from an undiagnosed syndrome like celiac disease, poor diet or defective activation of nutrients, many people are not receiving or utilizing the nutrients their bodies need to thrive.

The human body is tough. You can operate at sub-optimal levels for years or decades before a clinical symptom becomes apparent or is recognized as resulting from a deficiency.

Unfortunately, this recognition frequently comes only after symptoms have become so severe as to significantly impact your health.  Until that point, medications and surgeries are more likely to be used as treatments, neither of which correct the underlying cause of the deficiency.

In fact, many drugs exacerbate nutrient depletion.  So, while they may improve your symptoms in the short term, they can cause more harm than good in the long term.

Many prescription and non-prescription medications can deplete nutrients by any of these ways:

1. Preventing normal digestion and/or absorption, so nutrients cannot get into the body.

2. Interfering with nutrient transport and/or use in the body, so nutrients cannot Read More »

Understanding and treating calcium deficiency in celiac disease

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. About 99% of this essential nutrient is contained in bones and teeth with the rest being in blood and other tissues. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth and for nerve conduction, muscle contraction, heart muscle function, blood pressure regulation, glycogen to glucose conversion, initiation of blood clotting, many hormone actions, many enzyme activities and making acetylcholine, an important chemical for nerve transmission. Calcium plays a part in the prevention of colon cancer.

Most importantly, calcium opposes phosphorus as a buffer to maintain the acid-alkaline balance of the blood and is critical for milk production in the nursing of infants.

Calcium absorption in the small intestine is complex and has specific requirements.  Read More »

MEDICAL RESEARCH: “Copper Deficiency in Infants with Active Celiac Disease.”

Editor’s note: In this case report of infants with severe malabsorption from celiac disease, the treating physicians found copper deficiencies based on blood studies that showed severe low copper levels and white blood cell count.  Treatment required copper supplementation in addition to the gluten-free diet.  Normally, in the last few months of gestation, an infant  stores a large amount of copper in their liver.  This storage must last about 6 months because infants must derive their nourishment from copper-poor milk.  This case report shows dramatically the terrible effect of malabsorption coupled with a naturally occurring huge demand for copper that could not be satisfied through digestion. Read More »

Osteoporosis in Celiac Disease and How to Prevent It

osteoporosis celiac disease glutenOsteoporosis, or brittle bones, is a generalized bone disorder involving the slow loss of bone mass throughout the skeleton that results in diminished bone mineral density (BMD). Thinning, fragile bones maintain normal cell appearance but have a rapid turnover so that more bone is taken up and removed than is laid down. The result is bone weakness that predisposes people with osteoporosis to fractures.

Osteopenia refers to the progression of bone tissue loss in the range between normal to osteoporosis.

What are Bones?

Bones are dynamic structures made up of living connective tissue and certain minerals. Connective tissue provides the shape of bones and holds calcium phosphate mineral for hardness and Read More »

Does the severity of celiac disease symptoms correspond with degree of villous atrophy?

Editor’s note: The study below, investigating whether the degree of villous atrophy (intestinal damage) correlates with the symptoms that are presented, found they do not. Therefore, more research is needed to find out why symptoms do not correlate with the degree of intestinal damage.

The pathologic range of villous atrophy seen on small intestinal biopsies ranges from severe (total villous atrophy and subtotal villous atrophy) to milder, partial villous atrophy. Read More »

Health in Depth: Muscle Weakness in Celiac Disease

Muscle weakness is the lack of muscle strength to perform physical work that we should be able to do, such as lifting objects, climbing steps or simply walking or getting up from a chair. Muscle weakness is different from muscle fatigue, which is the lack of energy to continue physical work once begun. Muscle weakness is also different from lassitude, or chronic fatigue, which is the feeling of tiredness or exhaustion but without loss of muscle strength.

Muscle weakness is common in celiac disease. It may stem from one or more nutrient deficiencies, associated disorders or complications. This article addresses only nutritional causes of muscle weakness resulting from malabsorption and/or loss of minerals from diarrhea or vomiting. Read More »

Niacin (Vitamin B3) deficiency in celiac disease

Niacin, also called vitamin B3, is required by all the cells of our body making it essential for vitality and life itself.

Niacin is essential for keeping our skin and digestive tract healthy, our brain and nervous system  functioning normally, certain key cell processes repaired, our adrenal glands producing steroid hormones at demand levels, sex glands producing the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and, most especially, for producing energy to keep our body alive.1

When absorbed from the small intestinal tract, niacin becomes part of a process including more than 200 enzymes involved in metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fatty acids, that is, chemical reactions that maintain life.1 Niacin is stored by the liver.2

Niacin must be digested to release its absorbable forms, nicotinamide and nicotinic acid. These molecules are absorbed across the intestinal lining at low concentrations by sodium-dependent facilitated diffusion, meaning they need help to get into the bloodstream.1 Read More »

Understanding and Treating Selenium Deficiency in Celiac Disease

Selenium is a trace mineral required for good health. We should not be complacent about the small amount of this essential nutrient needed because not having enough of it has serious consequences.

Selenium is required for antioxidant protection, DNA repair, thyroid hormone activation, immune system enhancement, production of prostaglandins, muscle function and protection against cancer. Read More »

Osteomalacia in Adult Celiac Disease

Osteomalacia is common in celiac disease. Osteomalacia can occur at any age. It children, it is called rickets.  It is a metabolic bone disorder that involves slow loss of minerals from bone tissue throughout the skeleton, stemming from inadequate absorption of vitamin D. As minerals are dissolved from bone tissue to provide for essential functions elsewhere in the body, bones gradually lose their hardness.

Consequently, pronounced softening of the bones characterizes osteomalacia. Soft bones become deformed, especially bones of the arms, legs, spine, thorax and pelvis. The softer bones have a normal amount of collagen, a strong fibrous protein in the bone matrix (osteoid) that gives bone its structure and tensile capacity, but there is not sufficient calcium and phosphate minerals available to properly mineralize or be deposited in the osteoid to give it necessary hardness. Read More »

Bleeding Complications (Bruising or Hematoma) as First Sign of Celiac Disease

Editors’ note: This case report illustrates that a person can live a long time reporting apparent good health and be completely unaware that they have symptoms of celiac disease. In this case, hematomas, (which are swollen black and blue marks caused by a break in the wall of a blood vessel), that developed on his legs caused the patient to seek medical attention. The ability of his blood to clot was severely impaired and yet there was no other manifestation of hemorrhage. Discover more about bruising and hundreds of other health issues and how to treat them at the Gluten Free Works Health Guide.

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