My love affair with supplements has been long lasting. I can remember sneaking all of the purple Freds, Wilmas, and Pebbles out of my Flintstone dailies when I was about 7. They tasted good, they were apparently good for me, and well, they were purple. Does it get better?
These days, I’ve upped my standards, researched benefits of different vitamins and minerals, and vetted which brands of supplements work for myself and for my children. I try to get many of my nutrients from my diet, but sometimes need help with vitamins and minerals I lack, have trouble consuming, or just could use a little extra. As for the kids, I pack a lot of vitamins into their smoothies (recipes coming soon!), but following a beige diet can put a cramp in your nutrient intake. This is where the supplements come in. Here’s what we take:
MY SUPPLEMENTS (info based on articles I’ve read and my own experiences)
Vitamin D3: Like many people with MS, I’m deficient in Vitamin D. Even many mainstream neurologists (including mine) are on board with MS patients taking vitamin D supplements to boost their levels. Many people know that Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption, but fewer know about its benefits regarding diabetes, cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and, yes MS. It’s kind of like a super-vit. I take this in addition to the Cod Liver Oil because my levels were so low.
Vitamin B-12-This vitamin helps (among other things) to regulate the nervous system. Vegans, strict vegetarians, and those who do not consume much meat (like me!) may be deficient in this vitamin. I was. Deficiencies in B-12 can lead to fatigue and depression, which are also associated with MS. It’s like my little energy boost.
Tumeric: Tumeric has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which is helpful for my MS. I also cook with Tumeric, but the flavor is strong.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): ALA was recommended to me by a respected holistic MD in Boston to support nerve regeneration. Studies have linked ALA to reducing peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain) caused by nerve damage in diabetics. Research is ongoing to see if ALA can also help nerve damage caused by MS.
Cod Liver Oil: This is a part of the Swank Diet protocol. Essential Fatty Acids have been shown to be key to a healthy nervous system. Research suggests that vitamin D (like that found in Cod Liver Oil) promotes healthy nerve growth, and may protect nerves when attacked by the immune system (as in people with MS). Bonus–Cod Liver Oil also has been shown to benefit your skin and nails, and the brand I use (Nordic Naturals) makes a lemon flavor that isn’t bad.
Probiotic: Probiotics help support a healthy digestive track by increasing the good flora (or “healthy bugs” as my kids call them) in your gut. Research increasingly shows that this then stimulates a healthy immune response (since so much of our “bad bug” fighting bacteria is housed in the gut).
**Biotin (to start soon): My neurologist informed me of a recent study that found benefits of high doses of Biotin in patients with Progressive-Primary MS. The abstract to that article is here. Even though that research was on patients with Primary-Progressive MS and I have Relapse-Remitting MS, my doctor said it is worth a shot.
MY KID’S SUPPLEMENTS
Probiotic: Again, a good probiotic is key to gut health, which is believed to be central to the immune system. It is important to promote the growth of Good Flora (healthy bugs), and ward off Bad Flora (bad bugs).
Vitamin C +Zinc +D3: This is an all-in-one I found at Whole Foods when I was looking for a Zinc supplement for the kids. Research has linked Zinc deficiency to attention span issues, poor appetite, learning disabilities, and increased colds. Logan’s first occupational therapist (who also was trained in feeding issues) recommended Zinc for his SPD. It’s a bonus that it also contains immune boosting vitamin C and D3.
Multivitamin: Our multivitamin fills in the gaps that might be missing in a “beige food diet” 🙂 It has the regular suspects (Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron), and is also free of refined sugars, food dyes, artifical flavors and additives.
I purchase most of my supplements from Whole Foods and Amazon. We spend about $100 a month on supplements in total (Fish Oil and Probiotics being the priciest). If this seems like a lot, I don’t spend money on prescriptions, and this is for 4 people. Some of the MS medications would put me back over $100 on their own, and came with side effects I managed with more medicine (acetaminophen, etc). If you want to know specific brands I buy, or have questions let me know. If something new comes up that I find helpful, I’ll let you know!
*As always, I’m not a medical doctor, and this is not medical advice. These are my own opinions and experiences. Do your own research, talk with your doctor before starting to take anything.