Can coeliac condition really lead to osteoporosis (bone atrophy)?
When coeliac condition is diagnosed, the patient's bone density is measured, as coeliac sufferers often have a reduced bone density. Coeliac condition causes damage to the mucous membrane of the small intestine, preventing the absorption of nutrients such as calcium. This leads to a calcium deficiency, which in turn disrupts bone metabolism and causes loss of bone mass. Other factors, such as smoking, reduced calcium intake and existing auto-immune diseases, also play a role in the development of osteoporosis (bone atrophy). Maintaining a gluten-free diet has a positive effect on the bone density of coeliac sufferers.
The German Society for Nutrition recommends a daily intake of 1000 mg of calcium for a healthy adult, which should be consumed through naturally rich foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt, broccoli, leafy greens, pulses). Coeliac sufferers have a somewhat higher calcium requirement, in order to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.