Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance: Key Strategies for Food and More

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Living with gluten intolerance means sticking to a gluten-free diet, but sometimes, diet alone doesn’t cover all the bases. Nutritional deficiencies can arise from restricted food choices and persistent symptoms can still be a part of everyday life. In this article, we’re going to explore a variety of supplements that can support your digestive health, boost nutrient absorption, and reduce inflammation. These tools can improve the quality of life for anyone dealing with gluten intolerance, giving you more than just dietary changes to rely on. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or you’re looking to enhance your current health regimen, discovering how specific supplements can help manage the challenges of gluten intolerance could be a crucial turning point.

What Is Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance?

Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance, also known as gluten sensitivity, occurs when individuals experience negative reactions to gluten-containing foods without having celiac disease or wheat allergy. Common symptoms include discomfort in the stomach like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation, as well as fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and skin issues like eczema.

The precise cause of non-celiac gluten intolerance remains uncertain, but it’s believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. Research suggests that certain components of gluten, such as FODMAPs, may trigger symptoms in sensitive individuals. Additionally, changes in gut bacteria or increased intestinal permeability could contribute to its development.

Non-celiac gluten intolerance affects a significant number of people and can significantly impact their quality of life. If you suspect you may have gluten intolerance, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.

What Causes Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), also known as non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), is a condition that causes individuals to experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease when they consume gluten, but without the autoimmune response or intestinal damage observed in celiac disease. The exact cause of non-celiac gluten intolerance remains unclear, but several theories attempt to explain the mechanisms behind this condition:

  • Immune Response: While it is not an autoimmune condition like celiac disease, some researchers believe that NCGS may involve an innate immune response. This response is less specific and more immediate than the adaptive immune response seen in celiac disease, and it does not involve the production of antibodies against tissue transglutaminase.
  • FODMAPs: Some symptoms attributed to NCGS may actually be a response to fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), which are found in a range of foods including wheat. Wheat is a major source of fructans, a type of FODMAP. Individuals who are sensitive to FODMAPs may experience symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which are similar to those reported for NCGS.
  • Gut Microbiota: Alterations in the gut microbiota and its interactions with the immune system and the intestinal mucosa may play a role in the development of NCGS. Some individuals may have a gut microbiota composition that reacts negatively to gluten or other wheat components.
  • Other Wheat Components: Besides gluten, wheat contains other proteins, such as amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), which can cause inflammation and worsen symptoms in sensitive individuals. This suggests that some people may react not only to gluten but to other components of wheat and related grains.

Research into NCGS is ongoing, and understanding of the condition continues to evolve. Diagnosing NCGS typically involves ruling out celiac disease and wheat allergy and observing whether symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet and return when gluten is reintroduced. [PMC8224613, PMC6630947]

What Food and Lifestyle Factors Are Important For Managing Gluten Intolerance?

  • Gluten-Free Diet: Avoid wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives; opt for gluten-free alternatives like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy products, and gluten-free grains.
  • Read Labels: Check food labels for hidden sources of gluten and look for gluten-free certification symbols on packaging.
  • Cooking at Home: Prepare meals using fresh, whole ingredients to minimize the risk of gluten contamination.
  • Cross-Contamination Awareness: Use separate utensils, cutting boards, and cooking surfaces for gluten-free foods; clean kitchen surfaces thoroughly before preparing gluten-free meals.
  • Gluten-Free Alternatives: Explore gluten-free options for bread, pasta, flour, and baking mixes available in supermarkets and specialty stores.
  • Nutrient-Rich Diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and gluten-free whole grains.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid sugary beverages and alcohol.
  • Manage Stress: Incorporate stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or hobbies into your daily routine.
  • Seek Support: Connect with support groups, online communities, or healthcare professionals specializing in gluten intolerance for guidance and emotional support.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol increases leaky gut. [PMC9028931]
  • Probiotics: Probiotic supplements may help improve gut health and alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms associated with gluten intolerance, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. [PMC9028931]
  • Polyphenols: Studies suggest that polyphenols, which are natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, might help ease the symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These benefits are thought to come from polyphenols’ ability to calm inflammation and strengthen the gut barrier. [PMC9268201]
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation in the body, which can be beneficial for individuals with gluten intolerance experiencing inflammatory symptoms. [PMC7835870]
  • Glutamine: Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining. Some people with gluten intolerance may use glutamine supplements to support gut health and promote healing of the digestive tract. [PMC6835310,PMC4369670]
  • Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzyme supplements containing enzymes such as amylase, protease, and lipase may help improve digestion and alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and discomfort. [PMC9862683]
  • Curcumin: Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Some individuals with gluten intolerance may use turmeric or curcumin supplements to help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms such as joint pain or inflammation in the gut. [PMC5407015]
  • Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement: A high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can help fill in any nutritional gaps in the diet caused by restrictions on gluten-containing foods.
    • Vitamin D: Many people with gluten intolerance may have low levels of vitamin D due to limited sun exposure or impaired absorption. Supplementing with vitamin D can support bone health and immune function. [PMC9028931]
    • B Vitamins: B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folate, are important for energy production, nervous system function, and red blood cell formation. Since gluten-containing grains are a significant source of B vitamins, individuals on a gluten-free diet may benefit from supplementation.
    • Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral involved in immune function, wound healing, and gastrointestinal health. Some people with gluten intolerance may use zinc supplements to address deficiencies or support immune function. [PMC9028931]
  • Iron: Iron deficiency is more common in individuals with gluten intolerance, especially those with gastrointestinal symptoms like chronic diarrhea or malabsorption. Iron supplements can help replenish iron stores and prevent anemia.

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article aims to offer valuable insights into which nutritional supplements have undergone scientific study and shown promise in supporting specific health conditions. We break down the research, so you can work with your medical providers to make informed decisions about adding supplements to your health regimen. For personalized advice tailored to your needs, we recommend consulting with a registered dietitian in addition to your primary care provider.

Check with your physician when adding supplements. While supplements are generally safe for most people, do not add nutritional supplements without your physician’s specific approval if you are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a history of organ transplant, liver or kidney disease, or take medications that interact with supplements.


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Supplement Safety Information

For individuals with non-celiac gluten intolerance, supplements such as multivitamins and mineral supplements, vitamin D, B vitamins, iron, calcium, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, glutamine, turmeric/curcumin, L-glutathione, methylated B vitamins, and zinc can be safe and beneficial additions to their diet. These supplements can help address potential nutrient deficiencies, support immune function, promote gut health, and reduce inflammation without containing gluten or exacerbating symptoms of gluten intolerance. When used appropriately and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, these supplements can complement a gluten-free lifestyle and contribute to overall well-being for individuals with non-celiac gluten intolerance.

Medication Interactions:

  • Antibiotics: Taking probiotic supplements may reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics by interfering with their action on harmful bacteria. It’s advisable to take probiotics several hours apart from antibiotic doses to avoid this interaction.
  • Blood-thinning Medications (e.g., Warfarin, Aspirin): Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish oil, may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood-thinning medications like warfarin or aspirin. Close monitoring of blood clotting parameters is recommended in such cases.
  • Antacids or Proton Pump Inhibitors: Taking iron supplements with antacids or proton pump inhibitors may reduce iron absorption and efficacy. It’s advisable to take iron supplements with vitamin C or on an empty stomach to enhance absorption and minimize interactions.
  • Anticonvulsants: Certain B vitamins, particularly B6, may interact with anticonvulsant medications, possibly altering their effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects. Close monitoring and adjustment of B vitamin supplementation may be necessary in these cases.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs: Glutamine supplements may interact with chemotherapy drugs, affecting their effectiveness or metabolism. It’s essential to discuss potential interactions with a healthcare professional before starting glutamine supplementation.
  • Methotrexate: Methylated B vitamins may interact with methotrexate, could alter its effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects. Close monitoring and adjustment of B vitamin supplementation may be necessary in individuals taking methotrexate.
  • Diuretics: Zinc supplements may interact with diuretics, affecting their absorption or metabolism. It’s essential to discuss potential interactions with a healthcare professional before starting zinc supplementation.
  • Nitroglycerin: L-glutathione supplements may interact with nitroglycerin, affecting its effectiveness or metabolism. It’s advisable to discuss potential interactions with a healthcare professional before starting L-glutathione supplementation.

Supplement Interactions:

  • Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement:
    • Calcium: Taking calcium supplements with a multivitamin may interfere with the absorption of other minerals like iron or zinc.
    • Iron: Iron supplements in a multivitamin may reduce the absorption of calcium when taken together.
    • Zinc: Zinc supplements may compete with other minerals in a multivitamin for absorption, may reduce their effectiveness.
  • Vitamin D:
    • Calcium: Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption, so taking them together can improve bone health.
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Vitamin D may enhance the absorption and effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in supporting cardiovascular health.
  • B Vitamins:
    • Iron: Vitamin B12 may improve the absorption of iron when taken together, which can be beneficial for individuals with iron deficiency.
    • Methylated B Vitamins: Methylated forms of B vitamins may enhance the absorption and utilization of other B vitamins in the body.
  • Iron:
    • Vitamin C: Consuming vitamin C-rich foods or supplements alongside iron can enhance iron absorption and improve its effectiveness in addressing iron deficiency.
    • Calcium: Calcium supplements may interfere with the absorption of iron when taken together, so it’s advisable to take them at different times of the day.
  • Calcium:
    • Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps regulate calcium absorption in the body, so taking them together can support bone health.
    • Magnesium: Calcium supplements may compete with magnesium for absorption, so it’s recommended to take them at different times to avoid interference.
  • Probiotics:
    • Digestive Enzymes: Probiotics and digestive enzymes may work synergistically to support digestive health and alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating or indigestion.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
    • Vitamin D: Vitamin D may enhance the absorption and effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in supporting cardiovascular health.
  • Digestive Enzymes:
    • Probiotics: Probiotics and digestive enzymes may work synergistically to support digestive health and alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating or indigestion.
  • Glutamine:
    • Turmeric/Curcumin: Glutamine and turmeric/curcumin supplements may complement each other in supporting gut health and reducing inflammation.
  • Turmeric/Curcumin:
    • Glutamine: Glutamine and turmeric/curcumin supplements may complement each other in supporting gut health and reducing inflammation.
  • L-Glutathione:
    • Methylated B Vitamins: Methylated B vitamins may support glutathione production in the body, enhancing its antioxidant and detoxification functions.
  • Methylated B Vitamins:
    • L-Glutathione: Methylated B vitamins may support glutathione production in the body, enhancing its antioxidant and detoxification functions.
    • B Vitamins: Methylated forms of B vitamins may enhance the absorption and utilization of other B vitamins in the body.
  • Zinc:
    • Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement: Zinc supplements may compete with other minerals in a multivitamin for absorption, possibly reducing their effectiveness.
    • Iron: Zinc supplements may interfere with the absorption of iron when taken together, so it’s advisable to take them at different times of the day.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

What Lab Tests Might Be Helpful In Managing Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance?

  • Celiac Disease Screening Tests: While non-celiac gluten intolerance is different from celiac disease, some individuals with gluten intolerance may also have celiac disease or may be at risk for developing it. Screening tests for celiac disease, such as blood tests for antibodies like anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG) or anti-endomysial antibodies (EMA), can help rule out celiac disease as a cause of symptoms.
  • Food Sensitivity Testing: Although controversial, some individuals with gluten intolerance may find food sensitivity testing helpful in identifying specific foods or ingredients, including gluten, that trigger symptoms. Tests such as IgG food sensitivity panels or elimination diets followed by food reintroduction under medical supervision may provide insights into food triggers.
  • Nutritional Deficiency Testing: People with non-celiac gluten intolerance, especially those with gastrointestinal symptoms, may be at risk for nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption or dietary restrictions. Laboratory tests to assess nutrient levels, such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, and magnesium, can help identify deficiencies and guide appropriate supplementation.
  • Inflammatory Markers: Inflammation is a common feature of gluten-related disorders, including non-celiac gluten intolerance. Testing for inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) may provide insights into the inflammatory status and help monitor the effectiveness of dietary interventions or treatments.
  • Genetic Testing: While not diagnostic for gluten intolerance itself, genetic testing for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) markers associated with celiac disease, such as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8, may be informative, especially for individuals with a family history of celiac disease or those with persistent symptoms despite a gluten-free diet.
  • Microbiome Analysis: Emerging research suggests that alterations in gut microbiota composition may play a role in gluten-related disorders, including non-celiac gluten intolerance. Analysis of the gut microbiome through stool testing may provide insights into the microbial community structure and function, might guide dietary and probiotic interventions.
  • Gastrointestinal Function Tests: For individuals with gastrointestinal symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten intolerance, tests such as fecal calprotectin or lactulose/mannitol intestinal permeability tests may help assess gut inflammation or intestinal barrier function, respectively.

To Sum It Up

Incorporating Multivitamin and Mineral Supplements, Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Iron, Calcium, Probiotics, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Digestive Enzymes, Glutamine, Turmeric/Curcumin, L-Glutathione, Methylated B Vitamins, and Zinc can offer significant health benefits for Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance. However, it’s crucial to remember that supplements should complement a healthy diet and lifestyle, not replace them. Consultation with a Registered Dietitian can provide personalized guidance on supplement use, ensuring optimal health outcomes.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


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