Celiac disease alert: Probiotics contaminated with gluten

Lana Bandoim's picture

A new study presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference reveals that probiotics can be contaminated with gluten. This creates a serious risk for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate gluten labeling for prescription or over-the-counter medications, and supplements can contain the protein.

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Researchers at the Digestive Disease Week conference found that probiotics can be contaminated with gluten, and the product labels do not indicate the protein is part of the ingredients. This popular dietary supplement is often recommended for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities, yet contamination can create more digestive problems. Researchers noted that the amount of gluten in probiotic capsules can be significant because patients often take multiple capsules a day. Contamination can occur in a variety of brands.

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The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate gluten in medications or supplements. This applies to both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Patients who purchase probiotics or other products are taking a risk and must confirm a gluten-free status on their own. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness recommends that people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities carefully read labels while looking for gluten-free products and talk to a pharmacist. In addition, they can contact the manufacturer to check if gluten is included.

Researchers from the Department of Medicine at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina published a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that found patients with celiac disease benefited from using probiotics, and the supplements eased their symptoms. However, a different study from Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu in Romania found that 23.8 percent of the supplements tested by researchers had gluten contamination. This included probiotics, vitamins, minerals and other types of supplements. With no regulation from the Food and Drug Administration, patients are faced with a conundrum. Although they can benefit from taking probiotics, they must be careful to avoid products that have gluten contamination and can still run the risk of being glutened despite their efforts.

Read more about celiac disease:
Doctors ignore proper celiac disease diagnosis and care
Celiac disease tripled in children in last 20 years

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