Like everyone else, people with lupus feel their best when they receive nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in proper proportions. Due to disease activity and the side effects of medications, those with lupus often suffer from deficiencies in certain nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D and folic acid. In addition, some researchers have suggested links between some nutrients such as antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids and decreased inflammation in people with lupus. Taking supplements that provide these substances can be one way to maintain good health, prevent complications, and even lessen inflammation and other symptoms.
It has also been proven that some lupus symptoms are made worse by certain substances that are sometimes added to supplements. When you are choosing supplements, make sure to check labels and avoid these ingredients in order to avoid worsening your symptoms.
Due to the unpredictable nature of lupus, it is difficult to measure the impact of supplements over other factors. There is no scientific evidence that any supplement can cure lupus or reverse its symptoms. There are many misleading claims that one supplement or regimen of supplements or another can effectively treat lupus. Most of these claims are based on personal narratives and not on controlled scientific trials. These individuals may have experienced spontaneous improvement in their condition, but it could be related to other factors apart from supplements.
Some supplements may increase your levels of certain nutrients to toxic levels. It is possible to overdose on vitamins and minerals. In addition, some supplements may cause dangerous interactions with medications. No supplement is ever a good substitute for clinically proven lupus drug therapies.
What does it involve?
Always consult your doctor before taking any new supplement. Ask your doctor for the correct dosage of any new supplement. Be sure to provide your doctor with an up-to-date list of all medications in order to avoid drug interactions.
Antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E may help reduce inflammation and lower your risk of disease activity.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help fight inflammation as well as heart disease. Fish oil supplements are one type of supplement containing Omega-3 fatty acids.
Selenium may help reduce inflammation.
Dietary fiber can help keep your heart healthy, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, and keep your bowels working properly.
People with lupus often require more of certain nutrients than people without lupus. For instance, corticosteroids can thin your bones and cause osteoporosis. Therefore, you may ask your doctor whether supplements containing calcium and Vitamin D may be appropriate for you. Since people with lupus must limit their exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D supplements may be especially needed.
If you are taking Methotrexate, you may benefit from taking a folic acid supplement.
Garlic and alfalfa are common ingredients in some supplements. These foods have been shown to exacerbate lupus symptoms. Always check the labels of supplements before you purchase them, and avoid any that contain these dangerous ingredients.
The hormone melatonin, available as a supplement, may stimulate the immune system and worsen lupus symptoms.
Likewise, Echinacea has been linked with worsening lupus symptoms.
Optimizing your nutrition will help you feel your personal best. Ensuring that you get a healthy amount of nutrients such as fiber, calcium and Vitamin D can help you maintain a healthy heart and bones. Taking antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids may help your body fight inflammation associated with lupus.
The effect of diet on lupus symptoms is a relatively new field of study.
In 2012, researchers completed a review of nutritional factors and their effects on lupus. Results showed that a diet with moderate amounts of protein and calories and rich in unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals, especially antioxidants, can improve the quality of life of those with lupus.
A 2003 study of 216 women with inactive lupus over four years found that Vitamin C was associated with lowered risk for developing active disease.
A small study in 2012 indicated that Vitamin D supplements may help suppress lupus flare-ups in people with low Vitamin D levels.
Several small studies have indicated that Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease lupus symptoms, although it does not improve conditions in cases where lupus affects the kidneys (lupus nephritis).
Supplements cannot replace a healthy diet.