Female Multiple Sclerosis Patients Have Lower Nutrient Levels

Patients found to less antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Patients found to less antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.

In addition to the challenges of managing their disease, multiple sclerosis patients must also deal with the added problem of proper nutrition.

Female multiple sclerosis patients may have levels of vital antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as food folate and vitamin E, that are lower than the levels found in healthy people, a recent study indicates.

The study, which was supported the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, will be presented at the 67th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Washington, DC from April 18 to 25.

The study included 27 Caucasian female multiple sclerosis patients, who were compared with 30 healthy Caucasian women between the ages of 18-60 with a body mass index less than or equal to 30 kg/m2. The study participants also reported their diet and nutrition from the prior year before starting vitamin D supplementation.

The women with multiple sclerosis were found on average to have lower levels of 5 nutrients that contain antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties. These nutrients are food folate, vitamin E, magnesium, lutein-zeaxanthin, and quercetin.

The multiple sclerosis patients had an average food folate intake of 244 micrograms (mcg), compared with an average intake of 321 mcg in the healthy subjects. The recommended daily allowance of food folate is 400 mcg.

Women with multiple sclerosis had an average intake of 254 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, compared with healthy women who reached the recommended daily allowance of 320 mg. Multiple sclerosis patients also had a lower average percentage for their calories from fat than did the healthy women.

"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," study author Sandra D. Cassard, ScD, said in a press release. "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."