Can celiacs take TUMS?

Quick answer

Celiacs and those with gluten sensitivity should avoid taking regular TUMS that contain wheat starch. However, TUMS makes gluten-free antacid options that are safe for celiacs to use. The key is checking the ingredients label for gluten-containing ingredients.

What are TUMS?

TUMS is a popular antacid medication used to provide relief from heartburn, acid indigestion, sour stomach, and upset stomach associated with these symptoms. The active ingredients in TUMS are calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, which act as antacids to neutralize stomach acid and provide relief.

TUMS comes in different forms, including regular strength tablets, extra strength tablets, soft chews, and liquid suspensions. The most common active ingredients are the same across the different TUMS products. However, the inactive ingredients vary, which is important for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Do regular TUMS contain gluten?

The regular TUMS antacid tablets (TUMS Regular Strength and TUMS Extra Strength) contain wheat starch. Wheat starch is a gluten-containing grain.

Therefore, the regular TUMS tablets are not safe for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity due to the wheat starch content.

Ingredients in regular strength TUMS tablets:
– Active Ingredients: Calcium carbonate (USP), magnesium hydroxide
– Inactive Ingredients: talc, mineral oil, artificial colors, corn starch, adipic acid, sodium polyphosphate, sucrose, magnesium stearate, gelatin, flavors, povidone, titanium dioxide, wheat starch

Ingredients in extra strength TUMS tablets:
– Active Ingredients: Calcium carbonate (USP), magnesium hydroxide
– Inactive Ingredients: talc, mineral oil, artificial colors, corn starch, adipic acid, sodium polyphosphate, sucrose, magnesium stearate, gelatin, flavors, titanium dioxide, povidone, wheat starch

As you can see from the ingredient lists, wheat starch is used in both products. Wheat starch is the main problem ingredient for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Are other forms of TUMS gluten-free?

While the regular tablet forms of TUMS contain gluten, some of the other TUMS forms and flavors are gluten-free.

Here are some gluten-free options of TUMS:

– TUMS Freshers – These do not contain wheat starch. Most varieties are gluten-free, but some contain maltodextrin.

– TUMS Smoothies – Most of these varieties are gluten-free, but some contain maltodextrin. Check the ingredients.

– TUMS Liquid Suspension – The Assorted Fruit and Extra Strength Berry Fusion flavors are gluten-free.

– TUMS Kids – The Grape flavor is gluten-free.

So while the regular TUMS tablets contain gluten, TUMS does make some gluten-free antacid options that are safe for people with celiac disease. Be sure to check the ingredients label to confirm the specific flavor/variety is gluten-free before consuming.

Risks of regular TUMS for celiacs

For those with celiac disease, ingesting the wheat starch in regular TUMS tablets presents a number of risks and problems:

– Allergic reaction – Celiacs are allergic to gluten and ingesting it causes an immune reaction resulting in inflammation and damage to the small intestine. Even small amounts of gluten can trigger this.

– Symptoms – Typical celiac symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue may occur after ingesting gluten from the TUMS tablets.

– Intestinal damage – Regular exposure to gluten causes damage to the villi lining the small intestine in those with celiac disease. This can impair nutrient absorption.

– Increased cancer risk – The chronic inflammation from gluten exposure increases the risk of intestinal cancers like lymphoma for people with celiac disease.

– Preventing healing – Eating gluten will prevent the intestinal healing process that needs to happen in celiacs after adopting a gluten-free diet.

So while TUMS may provide symptom relief, the wheat starch poses other significant health risks for those with celiac disease. Avoiding gluten from medications and supplements is important.

Gluten-free TUMS options

While the regular TUMS tablets contain gluten, there are some gluten-free TUMS products that are safe options for celiacs:

TUMS Freshers

Most TUMS Freshers varieties are gluten-free. They do not contain wheat starch. However, some contain maltodextrin, so check labels. Some gluten-free options:

– Spearmint
– Peppermint
– Wintergreen
– Cinnamon

TUMS Smoothies

Many of the TUMS Smoothies are gluten-free. Avoid Raspberry for sure. Other safe options include:

– Berry Fusion
– Fruit Punch
– Tropical Punch

TUMS Liquid Suspension

Two gluten-free flavors:

– Assorted Fruit
– Extra Strength Berry Fusion


The Grape flavor is gluten-free.

So in summary, while regular TUMS have gluten, there are alternative forms, flavors and varieties that are gluten-free, giving celiacs heartburn relief options from the TUMS brand. Just need to check the ingredients on each carefully.

Other gluten-free antacid options

In addition to the gluten-free TUMS varieties, there are some other over-the-counter antacid medication options that are safe for celiacs:

– Alka-Seltzer Fruit Chews – Most flavors gluten-free
– Gaviscon – Tablet and liquid forms
– Gas-X – Avoid softgels with wheat starch
– Mylanta – Classic original liquid
– Pepcid AC – Tablets and liquid
– Rolaids – Select flavors labeled gluten-free
– Zantac (ranitidine) – Tablets and syrups

So people with celiac disease have various gluten-free antacid options from leading brands. Just need to double check labels and ingredients for wheat/gluten before taking.

Are there risks taking TUMS without gluten intolerance?

For people without celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the small amount of wheat starch present in regular TUMS tablets is not an issue. There are no medical problems or risks associated with ingesting this trace amount of gluten for people who tolerate gluten normally.

Some important points:

– No allergic reaction – People without gluten issues will not have an immune reaction to the wheat content.

– No intestinal damage – Gluten does not damage the intestines of people who do not have celiac disease or NCGS.

– No increase in cancers – There is no cancer risk increase from small gluten intake in people without gluten disorders.

– No symptoms – Gluten ingestion should not cause any gastrointestinal symptoms in people without a gluten intolerance.

So for those without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, taking regular TUMS with wheat starch included is completely safe and not a health concern. No precautions need to be taken or avoided if not gluten intolerant.

What about a wheat allergy?

While most people associate gluten issues with celiac disease, some people have a wheat allergy instead. This is different than celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

For those with a wheat allergy, the wheat starch in regular TUMS could potentially trigger an allergic reaction. Wheat allergy symptoms may include:

– Skin reactions like hives, itching, eczema
– Swelling of lips, tongue, throat
– Wheezing, nasal congestion, trouble breathing
– Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
– Anaphylaxis in severe cases

So for those with a confirmed wheat allergy, avoiding the regular TUMS with wheat starch would be recommended. The gluten-free TUMS options would be a safer choice.

However, it’s important to distinguish a wheat allergy from the more common gluten disorders like celiac disease. Allergies involve the immune system while celiac is an autoimmune reaction specifically to gluten proteins. Diagnosis by a doctor is important to determine which condition someone has.

What about a gluten sensitivity or intolerance?

While celiac disease involves an autoimmune reaction to gluten, some people experience gluten sensitivity or intolerance instead. This is sometimes referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

People with NCGS get symptoms when ingesting gluten similarly to celiacs. However, they do not have the same immune reaction and intestinal damage seen in celiac disease.

For people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, the wheat starch in regular TUMS could cause issues like:

– Digestive symptoms – Diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort
– Systemic symptoms – Fatigue, headache, joint pain, brain fog, tingling
– Allergic reactions – Rashes, itching

So those with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance (but not celiac disease) should also avoid the regular TUMS containing wheat starch for symptom and reactivity reasons.

Testing can help diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The treatment is similar to celiac disease – following a strict gluten-free diet. So gluten-free TUMS or other antacids would be the safe choice for NCGS patients as well.

What about wheat intolerance?

Some people may have a food intolerance to wheat that is not related to gluten or celiac disease. This means they experience unpleasant symptoms when eating wheat products.

Symptoms of a wheat intolerance can include:

– Stomach pain, cramping
– Bloating, gas
– Diarrhea
– Headaches, fatigue
– Congestion, sinus issues
– Skin irritation

For people with a confirmed wheat intolerance (but tolerate gluten), there could be a reaction to the wheat starch in regular TUMS. So avoiding the wheat-containing varieties would be recommended.

However, gluten and wheat intolerance symptoms often overlap making it hard to distinguish. Working with a doctor is important for proper testing and diagnosis. People who simply avoid wheat but tolerate gluten can take gluten-free TUMS without issue.

Can I take TUMS before endoscopy for celiac testing?

People undergoing testing for celiac disease are usually instructed to continue eating gluten daily for 6-8 weeks prior to the endoscopy procedure. This ensures the small intestinal biopsy will show the characteristic damage needed to diagnose celiac disease.

Some question if they need to avoid TUMS prior to their endoscopy since it contains traces of gluten from wheat starch.

The experts say TUMS are fine to take leading up to your celiac disease testing endoscopy. Here’s why:

– Very small amounts of gluten – TUMS only contains trace amounts, less than actual gluten intake.

– Allows continued gluten consumption – Eating regular gluten is needed before testing, so TUMS doesn’t interfere with this.

– No significant impact on results – The tiny gluten traces in TUMS do not cause changes to the small intestine that would impact biopsy results.

So the wheat starch in regular TUMS will not skew celiac disease testing results from endoscopy biopsies. Patients can safely take TUMS for symptom relief when needed in the weeks prior to their procedure. No need to avoid it.


In summary:

– Regular TUMS contain wheat starch so are not gluten-free

– Celiacs and those with gluten sensitivity should avoid regular TUMS due to the wheat

– However, some TUMS product lines are gluten-free and safe options

– Checking ingredient labels closely is crucial to identify the gluten-free varieties

– People without gluten disorders do not need to worry about the wheat in regular TUMS

– Taking TUMS before a celiac endoscopy is fine and will not impact results

So in general, proceed with caution with TUMS if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Gluten-free formulations can provide antacid relief instead. When in doubt, check with your doctor.

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