Fibromyalgia: Vitamin Recommendations

Fibromyalgia (FM) can be characterized by pain that is widespread, not limited to a single anatomical area but rather can affect the arms, legs, trunk, head and neck. This Health Update will concentrate on a few specific vitamin recommendations with the understanding that a “good” diet such as one low in glutens (wheat, oats, barley, rye), rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, with an emphasis of omega 3 rather than omega 6 fatty acids, can be highly effective in and of itself.  More importantly, it doesn’t make sense to abuse your diet and expect any vitamin recommendation to be highly effective.  So the plea is, PLEASE practice a good “anti-inflammatory” diet, such as that briefly outlined above PLUS take the following vitamins:

1.     Multivitamin/mineral:  This captures a little of everything and serves as a foundation (like the base of a pyramid) for more specific vitamin recommendations.  In most cases, it is wise to skip iron as this is not usually a missing nutrient for most people and can be toxic for some.  If however, iron has been recommended for you, feel free to include it.

2.     Magnesium (Mg):  Magnesium is a missing nutrient as most foods do not include Mg and it is a vital nutrient in many of the pathways where proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are broken down in the body.  Since it cannot be easily obtained through the diet, a supplement of Mg is wise.

3.     Omega 3 fatty acids:  There must be a balance between the anti-inflammatory omega 3 and the pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.  Most people consume far more omega 6 vs. omega 3 fatty acids (instead of the other way around) by consuming things like fast foods and potato chips.  There are long lists of omega 3 and omega 6 foods available on the internet – just “search” these and try to achieve a 3:1 omega 3 vs. omega 6 ratio. When choosing this supplement, many options will be available such as, “1000 mg of Fish Oil.”  But, take a careful look at the label to determine how many pearls/pills are recommended per day as this can vary quite a bit. There are two primary active ingredients abbreviated EPA and DHA that are the important part of “fish oil.”  Generally, about 1000mg of each per day is ideal, which usually requires 3-4 pearls per day (which may mean 3-4000mg of “fish oil” — not “one-a-day”).

4.     Vitamin D:  Even if you don’t read magazines or newspapers, you probably have heard some of the many wonderful things about Vitamin D.  Some of these benefits include anti-cancer (cervix, prostate, and others).  It’s also been reported as an anti-depressive and more effective for reversing the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) than stimulation using the correct type of light. It is a strong anti-inflammatory and hence, has a role in the treatment of most diseases as most conditions include an inflammatory component.  The FDA has recently raised the minimum recommended daily allowance from 400 IU to 2000 IU/day.  It has been reported that 70% of people living in the sunbelt are Vitamin D deficient as the ONLY good source of Vitamin D is from sunlight and most of us avoid too much sun for skin cancer reasons.

5.     CoQ10:  This is a very strong anti-oxidant and it’s been highly recommended for anyone with any heart related conditions.  Anit-oxidants have MANY health benefits! Try 100mcg/day.