Gluten free eating and its potential impact on vitamin and mineral needs
What exactly is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, including wheat, rye, barley and oats.1 It’s found in many breads, breakfast cereals and pastas, as well as unexpected places like some lollies and chocolates, meat products, beer and condiments like salad dressing.1 People who have a condition called coeliac disease develop an inappropriate immune reaction to gluten which causes inflammation and damage to their intestines and extremely uncomfortable symptoms.2 For these people, a strict lifelong gluten free diet is the only treatment.1 Others may choose a gluten free as they believe it will improve their health or will help them to lose weight (although these reasons are largely unfounded). There are also people who may avoid gluten in their daily diet because they have a sensitivity to it, not a full allergy, but these people feel better when they stay away from gluten.
How can gluten free eating impact on my vitamin and mineral intake?
Whether you eat gluten free by choice or through necessity, you may be potentially missing out on vital vitamins and minerals. Gluten itself doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits but the whole grains in foods that contain gluten do. Some people who avoid gluten simply replace healthy whole grains with modified gluten free versions of foods, like gluten free breads and pastas. This might sound healthier, but these foods can be high in calories, fat, sugar and salt, and may contain refined gluten substitutes like corn starch, potato starch or white rice that are lower in nutrients compared to their wholegrain counterparts. While these types of products are beneficial for Coeliac sufferers’, they shouldn’t make up the bulk of their diet. Studies show that gluten free eating can result in inadequate intake of vitamin B1, folate, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.3
How can I maintain my vitamin and mineral intake but still be gluten free?
- Eat nutrient dense foods that are naturally gluten free – Instead of relying on gluten free packaged products, eat foods that are naturally gluten free to increase your vitamin and mineral intake, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish and poultry, whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat, millet and quinoa, nuts and seeds, beans and other legumes and dairy products.
- Take a multivitamin – To ensure you obtain adequate vitamins and minerals every day, consider taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Nature’s Own™ Mega Potency Multivitamin Plus Krill Oil contains a combination of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants plus omega-3 essential fatty acids from krill oil to support both men’s and women’s nutritional needs.
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Published February 25, 2014
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