Celiac disease Patient friendly summary

 In addition to wheat gluten, celiac patients are also commonly allergic to corn.
  • Sunlight can compensate for low vitamin D absorption in people with Celiac disease.
  • Vitamin D may improve bone mass density, which is a problem in people with Celiac disease.

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine.

Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks healthy cells.

People with Celiac disease cannot digest gluten, a protein in some foods such as wheat. This causes chronic diarrhea, weight loss, failure to thrive (in children), and fatigue.

Those with Celiac disease often have low body mass and low bone mineral density. This may be caused by calcium malabsorption and inflammation.

Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that occurs in people of all ages, from mid-infancy onward.

Risk factors

The risk factors for Celiac disease are:

  • Genetics
  • Eating foods containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats)

Avoiding foods with gluten can help increase body mass and bone mineral density.

Sunlight exposure and Celiac disease risk

There is no evidence that low sunlight exposure causes Celiac disease.

However, sunlight exposure would generate more vitamin D. This could counter any poor vitamin D absorption from food and supplements and improve bone mass density.

Vitamin D and Celiac disease

Vitamin D levels

People with Celiac disease often have low vitamin D blood levels. This possibly occurs because of poor vitamin D absorption from food and supplements.

How vitamin D works

Vitamin D may not have a direct effect on Celiac disease. However, people with Celiac disease often have low vitamin D levels. Extra vitamin D is generally required for optimal health.


Vitamin D does not prevent Celiac disease.

Vitamin D and calcium

People with Celiac disease often have low bone mineral density. Therefore, calcium supplements may be beneficial.


Those with Celiac disease should have vitamin D levels and bone mineral density checked. If needed, additional vitamin D can be obtained through supplements or ultraviolet-B (UVB) light exposure.

Find out more...

We will be adding a detailed evidence summary on this topic in the near future.  Please check back soon to find out more.

Page last edited: 17 May 2011