Alicia wrote: If you could recommend your favorite supplements and tell me how they have helped you I would appreciate it.
I can’t make any direct recommendations so I’ll just share my experience with my own supplement regimen (and I agree with Melody that "supplements are so personal"). I would recommend reading what has been previously posted on this forum and coming to your own decision.
I was diagnosed in 1999. A few months after that I started taking Avonex. I felt like there was more that I could do for my health but my neuro didn’t have any specific recommendations. Thus, I started reading through the scientific literature on different supplements that I would come across in more main stream reading.
Like yourself, I began with cod liver oil although with vitamin E (this was a few months after starting Avonex). It was during this time that I experienced the most pronounced effects from my supplement regimen. As I was just getting started, I would occasionally forget to take the cod liver oil and vitamin E for a couple of days. I would start to feel really run down and tired and then I would remember the supplements sitting in my cabinet. After a day or so, the extreme tiredness would go away. With respect to vitamin E, a while back I switched over to taking natural vitamin E (also known as d-alpha tocopherol). The synthetic form is d, l-alpha tocopherol and, although it costs quite a bit less, some reviews that I’ve read pointed out that the other vitamin E isomers present in the synthetic form are processed by the body quite differently from the natural form (synthetic vitamin E only contains 12.5% of the natural form - a more complex discussion of chiral chemistry would necessary to explain this so I won’t get into the details).
Since then I’ve added a few other supplements to the routine. I started reading about omega-3 oils so I added ground flaxseed to my diet. I mix it with yogurt since it’s easier on my stomach. I initially chose flaxseed since I don’t like eating fish. However I eventually started taking omega-3 fish oil capsule since the conversion rate of ALA to DHA is rather low. I still continue with the flaxseed.
The role of antioxidants and inflammation then grabbed my attention. I’ve discovered that not all antioxidants are created equally. For example, several have an anti-inflammatory effect while others are proinflammatory. Examples of anti-inflammatory antioxidants are epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea and lipoic acid. A common pathway, in addition to reducing free radicals, appears to be the inhibition of the transcription factor NF-kB which is responsible for the production of proinflammatory cell signaling proteins. However, other antioxidants can have a proinflammatory effect and one example is grape seed extract. At least one report that I found states that it can increase interferon gamma (which was found in early interferon trials to make MS worse). Armed with this information, I now drink several cups of green tea per day and take an r-lipoic acid supplement (r-lipoic acid is the form found in the body). Somewhere in the mix I started taking vitamin C since vitamins E and C have been reported to work together in neutralizing lipid peroxyl radicals. I also read of curcumin’s potential benefit in MS (or at least in EAE). Curcumin is an antioxidant present in the spice turmeric and has anti-inflammatory activity. Thus, I’ve added a bit of turmeric to my daily diet. To me, turmeric has a strong flavor while others apparently don’t notice it much. As such I’ve started with a low amount and may increase it over time.
More recently I bumped up my vitamin D intake. Cod liver oil provides some vitamin D (as well as low amounts of the omega-3’s DHA and EPA), but since it also has vitamin A which can be toxic if taken in large amounts, I added a D3 supplement especially since I don’t get out in the sun much.
In addition to adding supplements to my regimen, I’ve decided that removing things can also be of benefit. One food additive I’ve removed from my diet is partially hydrogenated oils (also know as trans fat). This requires a lot of label reading however I feel that the effort is worthwhile as I’ve read that partially hydrogenated oils can be proinflammatory.
That list should be up-to-date. However, sometimes it seems that there’s no end to the different supplements that I could take which can be overwhelming. For any particular supplement, I always try to find supporting evidence in the scientific literature. One particular supplement that currently has my interest is n-acetyl cystiene. This has been reported to act as an antioxidant in that it helps increase levels of glutathione. However, both its cost and the fact that both EGCG and lipoic acid are reported to also increase glutathione have kept me from pursuing it further.
I apologize for the lack of supporting links in this post, however I think that my prior posts should have that covered. I also hope that my sharing my experience has been helpful.