MS Patients May Need More of These Nutrients

Multiple sclerosis patients may have lower levels of anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants than those without the disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Women with multiple sclerosis may need to pay extra attention to what they eat to address a possible gap in their diets.

A new study found that women with multiple sclerosis (MS) may have lower levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients than women without the disease.

Sandra D. Cassard, ScD, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, led this study.

“Since MS is a chronic inflammatory disorder, having enough nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent the disease or reduce the risk of attacks for those who already have MS,” Dr. Cassard said in a press release.

She continued, “Antioxidants are also critical to good health and help reduce the effects of other types of damage that can occur on a cellular level and contribute to neurologic diseases like MS. Whether the nutritional differences that we identified in the study are a cause of MS or a result of having it is not yet clear.”

MS is a disease in which the body’s immune system does not respond normally and attacks the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin (a substance covering nerve fibers) and nerve fibers. The damaged myelin becomes scar tissue, called sclerosis.

Dr. Cassard and colleagues said MS patients should consume more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, in addition to their other treatments and medications.

Antioxidants are compounds that stop chemicals called free radicals from hurting the body. Free radicals may cause cell damage, including damage that may result in cancer. Some antioxidants are made naturally in the body, and others come from diet. Common sources of dietary antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, grains and dark chocolate.

Anti-inflammatory nutrients help stop inflammation or swelling in the body and cells. These nutrients include folate and vitamin B- and E-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Anti-inflammatory diets avoid saturated and trans fats, refined or processed foods, red meat and dairy. Fish, lean meat and whole grains like brown rice are common components of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Dr. Cassard and team found that women with MS had lower levels of anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants like folate, vitamin E, magnesium, lutein-zeaxanthin and quercetin than women without MS.

Because women with MS were not getting enough of these nutrients important for neurological health, Dr. Cassard and team noted that these patients may need to change their diets.

This study was released online Feb. 19. It will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke funded this research. Dr. Cassard and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
February 19, 2015
Last Updated:
February 24, 2015