5 Nutrients Low in Women with Multiple Sclerosis
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that women with multiple sclerosis have a lower intake of five nutrients when compared with their healthy peers. These five antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients may play an important role in the disease, so what should women do?
The research team, under direction of Dr. Sandra D. Cassard, wanted to know whether the rise in the prevalence of MS in recent years might be related to inflammatory factors in the diet. To investigate this idea, they enrolled 57 nonobese women (age range, 18-60) who had participated in a vitamin D supplementation trial.
The 27 women with multiple sclerosis and the 30 healthy individuals completed a food frequency questionnaire covering 12 months before they entered the vitamin D study. Analysis of the data revealed the following:
- The five antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients consumed in lower amounts by women with multiple sclerosis were identified as magnesium, folate (from food), vitamin E, lutein-zeaxanthin, and quercetin.
- Women with multiple sclerosis consumed a lower percentage of their calories from fat than did the healthy controls
At this point, the researchers do not know whether the lower intake of these nutrients could be a cause of multiple sclerosis or a result of it. However, Dr. Cassard noted that since multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory condition, the presence of a sufficient level of anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body may be helpful in preventing the disease or reducing symptoms.
Dr. Cassard did stop short of recommending women with multiple sclerosis take supplements of these nutrients, pending further research. Women who live with multiple sclerosis may want to ask their doctor about these nutrients and also review their diet to see whether they are getting sufficient amounts.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for women is 15 milligrams; for folate, 400 micrograms; and for magnesium, 320 milligrams. No daily levels have been established for lutein-zeaxanthin (carotenoids found together in many vegetables) and quercetin (a flavonol found in fruits, vegetables, and grains).
It should be noted that research into the role of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis has indicated that it may reduce disease activity and that high intake of the nutrient may help in prevention. Investigations into the influence of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis are ongoing.
American Academy of Neurology