B vitamins helped those with celiac disease feel better, absorb more nutrients from food and lower homocysteine levels—a risk factor for heart disease—in two new studies.
In celiac disease (CD), grain proteins called gluten damage the small intestine and interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, raising homocysteine levels. Doctors in this study explained that high homocysteine levels are an early sign the body lacks B vitamins. In a double-blind trial, 65 men and women with CD who had been on a strict gluten-free diet for several years took 800 mcg of folic acid, 500 mcg of vitamin B12 and 3 mg of vitamin B6 or a placebo per day. After six months, homocysteine levels had dropped an average of 34 percent, returning to normal, and participants reported much less anxiety and symptoms of depression.
In a related study, participants with CD who took the same supplements had higher blood levels of these B vitamins and lower homocysteine levels compared to those who did not take the supplements.
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics; 2009, Vol. 29, No. 8, 811-16.