Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top 10 Nutritional Supplements for ME/CFS

Nutritional supplements are an essential component of any ME/CFS treatment protocol. 

Research has shown that people with ME/CFS are routinely deficient in many important nutrients (notably zinc, magnesium, and carnitine). These deficiencies, in and of themselves, can decrease the degree to which the body can absorb and make use of other nutrients. 

Even when there are no clinical nutritional deficiencies, the physiological demands of a chronic illness make it necessary to provide additional nutritional support – especially in light of the numerous GI problems prevalent in the ME/CFS population which may lead to malabsorption. For these reasons, most ME/CFS doctors recommend supplements.

The ten supplements most frequently recommended by ME/CFS physicians are:

1) An all-round nutritional supplement (multi-vitamin and minerals)
2) Vitamin B-12
3) Magnesium
4) CoQ10
5) Carnitine
6) Fish Oil
7) Vitamin C
8) Essential  Fatty Acids (EFAs)
9) Vitamin D3
10) Zinc

Those are the standard supplements that nearly every ME/CFS physician will instruct you to take at one point or another.

My own experience with nutritional supplements is that recovery is virtually impossible without them. They have helped stop the "wasting" that occurs during severe relapses, they have provided nutrition during times when my body could not digest food, and they have supplied the raw materials without which the body cannot heal itself.

And even when I didn't notice immediate benefits from supplements, I always felt a decline in energy a few weeks after I had stopped taking them. (The liver runs out of its stored reserves after roughly six weeks.)

Here are the ten supplements which have benefited me the most (in order):

1) Fish oil - I take the enteric-coated form, Fisol. This was of immediate benefit to me, and I've taken it every day without fail for seven years. (Fish oil is neuroprotective.)

2) B complex vitamins - I take these in a sublingual tablet (Coenzymate B Complex).

3) Butyrate (ButyRen, Butyrex) - has helped with intestinal healing

4) Vitamin A - has improved my sleep

5) Vitamin C - immediate increase in energy. I take the powdered form (pure ascorbic acid). Most vitamin pills contain very little bioavailable vitamin C.

6) Vitamin D3 (gelcap)

7) Vitamin E (gelcap, mixed tocopherols)

8) Magnesium glycinate

9) Zinc carnosine

19) B12 (sublingual)

For specific symptoms, I also take the appropriate supplement. Carnitine, for example, was very useful for increasing muscle strength and appetite when I was severely ill. (Warning: those with hypothyroidism should not take carnitine, as it blocks thyroid hormone.) 

Ubiquinol (CoQ10) has helped increase my energy levels, as has D-Ribose. And when I was unable to tolerate any supplements (or digest food), spray vitamins (Vitaspray), and Reliv were both essential.

Over the years, there have been many others.

Every person is a little different. With patience, perseverance, and a lot of trial-and-error, you will find your own "Top 10."

My best wishes for your speedy recovery!

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