Vitamins may help coeliac disease management: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coeliac disease, Vitamin

Daily supplements of B vitamins may improve the overall health of people with coeliac disease by reducing levels of an amino acid linked to heart disease, says a new Dutch study.

A study with 51 adults with coeliac disease and 50 healthy controls found that people taking daily supplements of vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 had significantly lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine, according to findings published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology​.

Epidemiological studies have reported that increased blood levels of homocysteine may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). It has been suggested that by lowering the levels of homocysteine in the blood with B-vitamins, people could cut the risk of CVD.

“This study demonstrated that patients with celiac disease using B vitamin supplements had lower homocysteine levels than those who did not use B vitamin supplements,”​ wrote the authors, led by Muhammed Hadithi from VUmc University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

“Second, even if villous atrophy persists, B-vitamin supplements can normalize B6, folate, B12 status, and homocysteine levels.”

People with coeliac disease, an intolerance to gluten in wheat, are reportedly at increased risk of having high levels of the amino acid homocysteine.

Coeliac disease, a condition reported to affect up to 1 per cent of children and 1.2 per cent of adults, according to a study in the BMJ’s Gut​ journal. Because coeliac disease is a typical example of a malabsorption syndrome, sufferers are at increased risk of various deficiency states, including folate and vitamin B12, said the Dutch researchers. Furthermore, high homocysteine levels, or hyperhomocysteinemia, are significantly more frequent in newly diagnosed coeliac disease patients than healthy controls.

Study details

Hadithi and his co-workers recruited 51 people with coeliac disease and compared them with 50 health people. Coeliac disease patients who used the vitamin supplements had higher serum levels of all three B-vitamins, said the researchers, compared to non-users.

Furthermore, homocysteine levels were significantly lower in patients using vitamin supplements than in patients who did not or healthy controls. And while both B6 and folate were significantly and independently associated with homocysteine levels, no association was observed for B12.

“The consequences of higher homocysteine levels in celiac disease may include an increased tendency to develop occlusive venous and arterial disease,”​ wrote the researchers. “Although this has been an understudied area, data are emerging that celiac disease confers an increased risk of vascular complications.”

Source: World Journal of Gastroenterology​ 2009, Volume 15, Issue 8, Pages 955-960 “Effect of B vitamin supplementation on plasma homocysteine levels in celiac disease”​ Authors: M. Hadithi, C.J.J. Mulder, F. Stam, J. Azizi, J.B.A. Crusius, A.S. Pena, C.D.A. Stehouwer, Y.M. Smulders

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