If you’re living with multiple sclerosis, growing research shows that certain vitamins and supplements could help improve your condition. Though results are still being studied, it’s possible that individuals with MS could see a change for the better thanks to vitamins and supplements including vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, selenium, gingko biloba and curcumin.
The level of vitamin D in an individual’s bloodstream is known to be a risk factor in developing MS, with a lower level leading to an increased risk of developing the disease. A vitamin D deficiency could also lead to faster progression of the disease for those already diagnosed, increased lesions and accelerated bone damage.
While taking vitamin D supplements might show some improvement in cognition for MS patients with a deficiency, others are not convinced that this is enough to recommend it as a treatment. The use of vitamin D supplements will vary from case to case and there is still not much research that recommends it as a widespread treatment.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may help slow disease progression when taken in small doses and prevent relapses as well. One study compared two groups of MS patients, one taking 10 milligrams of omega-3 daily and one taking an olive oil placebo. Though the results were deemed not statistically significant, the group taking omega-3s saw an improvement in their condition over the placebo group.
Omega-3s can be found in many fish products, but the easiest and most effective way to consume omega-3s is through a daily fish oil supplement. A small dosage is usually considered safe, but it is important to consult with a doctor before adding a fish oil supplement to a treatment plan.
The link between a vitamin B12 deficiency and MS is still not entirely clear, but vitamin B12 is shown to improve the production of myelin, key for MS patients whose myelin is under attack. One study did not find a link between vitamin B12 deficiency and MS, but was performed with subjects who had MS for a number of years.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is common among those over 50, and while MS is usually diagnosed before 40, more research using those newly diagnosed with the disease could be beneficial. Those interested in taking vitamin B12 to aid their condition should get their B12 levels checked with a blood test prior to beginning any supplement.
In some people living with MS, selenium levels might be lower than what is considered normal. This is not usually seen, however, across the board for patients. Many believe that selenium can help address the oxidative stress usually found in those living with MS.
Selenium, an antioxidant, can be taken in small doses safely. One caution when deciding to begin a selenium supplement is that it is known to stimulate the immune system. Since MS overstimulates the immune system already, it is best to consult with a doctor to see how selenium might interact with other forms of treatment.
Ginkgo biloba is an herbal extract thought to help improve cognitive performance. The research looking into ginkgo biloba’s effect on MS is mixed, however. One study showed an improvement in mental performance in MS patients taking a ginkgo biloba supplement as compared to a placebo group. However, these results were again considered not statistically significant.
Other research has shown that the effects of ginkgo biloba are mixed among patients with cognitive impairment. Since the results are inconsistent, it might be best to wait until further research is done or to consult with a doctor before deciding to start taking a ginkgo biloba supplement.
Curcumin is an active compound in the spice turmeric. Curcumin may reduce the severity and progression of MS. Researchers believe that curcumin infiltrates inflammatory cells in the spinal cord, reduces the activity of cytokines and could intercept the production of interleukin to MS patients’ benefit.
Curcumin can be found in many foods that use turmeric, particularly in an Indian food diet. Additionally, curcumin can be taken in supplement or powder form. Again, it is best to discuss curcumin with a health professional before beginning to take it.
Perhaps the best holistic treatment for any condition is rest. Sleep - whether deep sleep during the night or a quickcat nap during the day - has been shown to have numerous health benefits for many health conditions. Sleep can assist the body's various self-repair mechanisms, both mental and physical.
And we all know there's nothing worse than lying down to rest and being unable to get comfortable. If your MS has been impacting your ability to sleep, and high-quality hospital bed for home use might be just what you need to get a night of restful Z's.
While research is still burgeoning and mixed, some vitamins and supplements could have a positive impact on those living with MS. Always consult with a doctor or health professional before taking on any vitamin or supplement as part of a treatment plan.
Image credit: Image: Pixabay