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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

George Mason: Adults with Undiagnosed Celiac Disease Have Lower Bone Density, Says First Study on Topic

Research by George Mason University College of Health and Human Services found that adults who likely had undiagnosed celiac disease (UCD) — an autoimmune disease triggered by the ingestion of gluten — had lower bone density than the adults without UCD, although they consumed more calcium and phosphorous. This is the first known study of bone health of U.S. adults with untreated UCD.

Ms. Lara Sattgast* and Drs. Margaret Slavin, Cara Frankenfeld, and Sina Gallo led the research published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

“Our findings suggest that lower bone density among adults with UCD is not a result of their diets,” Ms. Sattgast explains. “This may mean that these adults are not correctly absorbing nutrients.”

The study used data on more than 13,000 adults who were not pregnant or eating a gluten-free diet from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and What We Eat in America (WWEIA) from 2009 to 2014.

This study provides further support for monitoring bone health of individuals with celiac disease. The researchers suggest that future work should explore optimal levels for consuming and/or supplementing nutrients for bone health and whether poor absorption in the small intestine fully explains the differences observed in bone health or whether other metabolic pathways are impacted.

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