Do You Need Supplements In Your Gluten-Free MenuPlan?
This is the next article in my “Getting Started Right” series for new gluten-free eaters. Click to check out the previous article called “How to Find Gluten-Free Diet Foods.”
This article deals with supplements and hopefully will help you decide whether you should include nutritional supplements in your Gluten Free Diet Plan. It will also explain 3 vitally important things that you need to take into account if and when you purchase nutritional supplements.
Just so you will know, most people that are gluten intolerant have celiac disease. I write from that perspective because that’s what I have learned to live with successfully.
If you are gluten sensitive or have a gluten allergy, you may find some useful information here but this article is written for those who are actually gluten intolerant.
Now, most people who just found out that they MUST eat gluten free are frequently “under nourished” and they may have been for years. Proper nutrition is extremely important when you begin eating gluten-free.
In the right circumstances, supplementation can be a extremely effective method of helping your body get all the vitamins minerals and other supplements that it needs to perform at peak efficiency and maximum effectiveness.
If you are newly diagnosed and/or aren’t sure what your doctor thinks about supplements in your situation, I suggest that you make an appointment for that purpose or have a telephone discussion with your physician to get his recommendation(s).
However, that being said, there are at least 2 conditions that you must see a physician about.
You need to honestly answer the following question…
Are YOU Malnourished or Emaciated?
Individuals who have just been diagnosed with diseases like celiac which require them to eat gluten-free diets, are sometimes malnourished, underweight (or, believe it or not, overweight… due to years of bad food choices) or even emaciated and/or are suffering from diseases that can result from malnourishment and/or emaciation.
And to make it worse, some of these individuals may believe that they are eating a healthy diet.
Unfortunately in diseases like celiac, portions of the small intestine, which is where most of the absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrient substances occur, may no longer be able to absorb various nutrients due to damage caused by long-term autoimmune responses to the presence of gluten in the victim’s diet.
I personally have had problems with the absorption of vitamin B12, which is absorbed near the end of the small intestine in a section called the ileum, as well as iron which is absorbed at the beginning of the small intestine in a structure called the duodenum. Vitamin B12 is used to produce bot nerve and red blood cells. Iron is used to make hemoglobin which is used to carry oxygen around your body in your red blood cells. My deficiencies in these 2 materials may be strongly implicated in the anemia which I have exhibited during much of my life. Anemia occurs when there are not enough red blood cells.
Deficiencies in various minerals and vitamins can result in medical conditions which are serious and sometimes can be life-threatening if they are not dealt with in a timely and proper fashion.
If you are in fact one of these individuals I strongly recommend that you discuss your situation openly, honestly and bluntly with your personal physician. And, even if you use nutritional supplements you should only do so under the supervision of a physician who is familiar with your situation.
If you don’t know how to tell if you are emaciated or malnourished, see your personal physician to find out if you are, in fact, malnourished or emaciated.
Also, if you suspect you may have nutritional deficiencies, see you physician.
There’s a very good reason for this… If you do have nutritional deficiencies, taking the wrong type of supplements can, in fact, do absolutely no good and may cause an aggravation to or worsening of your condition.
Supplements Are Not Always the Best Idea
Please note that if you have been diagnosed by a physician as having a condition called “gluten sensitivity” or a “gluten allergy,” there may be no damaged to your small intestine and because of that, this article might not apply to you.
I know that many people think that they can take a pill, a powder mixed in a fruit juice or similar liquid or a smoothie containing vitamins, minerals and/or enzymes or whatever they believe that their body is in need of and somehow their “deficiency” will be taken care of.
But, if you are someone who has a disease like celiac, that is probably not the whole truth.
Because, your intestine is probably damaged if you are a victim of celiac or a similar disease and even if you put supplements containing the missing minerals and/or vitamins and or enzymes into your digestive system, they may not be absorbed unless they are in a different form and the malnutrition and/or nutritional deficiency will probably grow worse.
Your physician should know how to help you overcome this and similar problems.
Often, various nutritional materials, vitamins and minerals are available over-the-counter in other forms. But, sometimes they will require a prescription depending upon your country or other political authority’s drug dispensing laws.
Sometimes, however, when a celiac disease sufferer begins eating gluten-free their body may be able to repair some or all of the damage to their small intestine (and, sometimes, other organs, also) caused by years of autoimmune reactions. If that is the situation you find yourself in, you may very well begin to take supplements and have them absorbed by your body in a normal fashion.
Please, please, please see your personal physician to determine the correct course of action for your situation!
In my case, I spent most of my childhood and adult life as an undiagnosed celiac disease sufferer. For years I had physical symptoms associated with malabsorption of iron as well as malabsorption of vitamin B12.
Malabsorption means that my body doesn’t get a particular substance as a result of the digestion of the food that I eat.
The damage to my small intestine is so severe that now even 15 years after I began eating and living gluten-free, I still cannot absorb vitamin B12 in a normal fashion.
When I can, I take injections (YUK! I hate needles.) of B12 to get that vitamin.
An alternative, in many cases, are sublingual, “fast dissolve” pills because they do not depend on the digestive system to get into the blood stream… they are absorbed in your mouth and throat. See your physician to know for sure.
But, I would like to note that I no longer need to take a special form of iron…
Apparently, my body now absorbs iron and related nutritional substances in a normal, healthy fashion. That implies that my body has repaired the damage to the part of my small intestine which absorbs iron.
Again, if you believe or know that you are in fact malnourished or are emaciated, it is vitally important for you to be under the care of your personal physician.
Malnourishment as well as emaciation are both serious medical conditions which should only be treated by a qualified, licensed physician.
Sometimes You Can Provide Nutrition that Your Body Needs But Isn’t In Your Food!
If, on the other hand, you simply wish to enhance your body’s well-being by providing nutrition which it needs but may not be receiving through your normal food, my husband and I both use supplements that we buy here in the United States from a company by the name of Life Plus International, Limited.
Although they have offices and warehouses all over the world, Life Plus’ home office is located in Batesville, Arkansas, USA. They provide the highest quality and freshest supplements we are familiar with. We have used their products for close to 20 years and are extremely satisfied with the results!
If you are considering using or are actually using supplements, there are 3 things that you need to be aware of. I don’t believe that most people who use supplements know about these 3 facts. Or, if they do, they really don’t understand just how “majorly important” they are.
Those are three factors are so important because they may seriously affect how well a supplement will work in your body. Whether you try Life Plus as Al and I do or whether you have your own source, you still need to take these 3 factors into account when you buy your nutritional supplements.
Factor #1 – The Carrier or Base
The first is what is called the carrier or base. The carrier is the material that the supplement materials is combined with in the pill or mix to deliver the supplement for use by your body (sometimes called “bioavailablity”).
Many, if not most, companies that sell supplements use artificial materials to “carry” and make available the target nutritional supplement to your body.
Life Plus doesn’t do that.
Instead, Life Plus uses their proprietary PhytoZyme® Base to help deliver the active ingredients in their various products to your body….
…their exclusive formula combines special herbs, phytonutrients, co-factors, plant enzymes and more than thirty different fruits & vegetables into a superior delivery system for their products in your body.
Their formulation works with your body to assist in the absorption of the target (active) ingredients in their products.
Factor #2 – Manufacturing Methods
Many manufactures of nutritional supplementation simply throw together the active ingredients, pulverize them, mix them up and package them. For some things that don’t have enzymes and other heat sensitive ingredients, this probably works fine. But for others, it totally destroys or reduces the effectiveness of the product.
Many nutritional substances are extremely heat sensitive so if you buy a supplement that contain heat sensitive substances like enzymes in their recipes and the manufacturer is not careful about the temperature during the manufacturing process, the supplement will probably not work as it should in your body. Even something like a crushing or chopping operation can create enough heat due to friction to destroy or significantly reduce the effectiveness of some supplements.
Life Plus makes use of a sensitive manufacturing method which uses “cold” processing in the manufacture of products which contain heat sensitive, active ingredients.
This helps to ensure that your body gets the target nutrition that you are paying for.
Many supplementation vendors literally buy warehouses full of supplements at one time. Then, they sell to you through various retail outlets on a “demand basis.” Because of that, freshness of the products that you are buying is highly questionable.
It’s unfortunate but many supplementation products are sensitive to how long they have been sitting on the shelf or in a warehouse waiting to be purchased and used. I won’t get into the bio-chemistry here (to be honest, I don’t understand it; but my husband Al does and he tells me that it is true).
The bottom line is that the effectiveness of some supplements drops off with age. So if you buy something in a grocery store it may be literally “years old” and you will not be getting the supplementation effectiveness that you think that you are buying.
Life Plus doesn’t warehouse “time sensitive products” any longer than is necessary for efficient distribution purposes. In fact, I’ve heard it said that there is a very good chance that any product you buy from Life Plus will have been made within a week of when it ships to you, the consumer.
Everything you buy from Life Plus is guaranteed! Just take the link below to review the terms and conditions.
If you would like to find out more about Life Plus and why we and so many of our customers ordered just to try them out and then stayed a life time, just click this link to go to the Life Plus International, Limited website in a new window.
Well, that’s it for this article. My next post will begin to get into how you should be shopping for gluten-free foods.