The Five Best Supplements for Fibromyalgia
Managing fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is notoriously difficult, with widespread pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog and sleep disturbances making daily life a real challenge. Due to this complexity, a multi-dimensional treatment approach is usually required to help you feel your best. Cardio exercise, resistance training and rTMS can all help significantly with the symptoms, but ensuring that you don’t have any nutrient deficiencies is also critical.
Research shows that levels of certain vitamins and minerals are commonly low in FMS sufferers, while others have been found to help with managing the symptoms. We scoured the latest research to find you the five supplements that show the most promise.
Several studies have found that magnesium deficiency is common in people with FMS, and that those with the lowest levels tend to have the most pain. This is believed to be due to magnesium’s ability to block certain nerve receptors, which are believed to play a role in FMS pain. Having low magnesium has also been found to reduce a person’s tolerance to exercise, as well as increasing the amount of inflammation in their body, giving FMS sufferers multiple reasons to consider adding this into their daily routine.
There are a lot of different forms of magnesium available, and the number of choices can be overwhelming. We recommend ‘Ionic magnesium’, as this form is easily absorbed by the body and is gentle on the gut.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the U.K, mostly due to the limited amount of sunlight that we are exposed to. Some studies have found that in the FMS population, this figure is as high as 40%. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency commonly include body pain, depression and anxiety, all of which frequently occur in FMS, so it is not hard to see why supplementing this crucial vitamin is worthwhile.
The ideal way to get vitamin D is of course through sun exposure, so in the summer it is a great idea to take advantage of this. However, in the winter months, the sun is not strong enough for our bodies to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, making supplements very important. This is especially true for people with darker skin tones, as the amount produced by sun exposure is even less.
- Vitamin B12
There is good evidence that B12 supplements can improve FMS symptoms, with several studies showing that longer term, higher doses led to a greater number of people reporting themselves as “much improved”. This effect is believed to be due to B12’s ability to break down a protein known as ‘homocysteine’, which, as well as being associated with a greater risk of dementia, heart disease and stroke, has been linked with FMS pain.
Almost all dietary sources of B12 come from animal foods (meat, fish, dairy, eggs), and it is not easily stored by the body. This means that if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is even more important to keep it topped up with supplements.
- Co-enzyme Q10
In recent years, more attention has been focused on Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), due to discoveries that it can help to reduce both pain and anxiety in people with FMS. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it can reduce the effects of something known as ‘oxidative stress’ in the body. Oxidative stress has been shown to play a key role in chronic pain, by increasing the sensitivity of the nervous system.
As the link between CoQ10 and FMS is reasonably new, the research is in its early stages. However, this is looking like a promising area, so we will be following it closely. In the meantime, CoQ10 is considered a safe supplement, so for most people there is little reason not to give it a try.
The link between the gut and the brain has been an area of growing interest in modern healthcare, as more and more diseases are found to be affected by the presence (or absence) of certain bacteria in the digestive system. One such link is with FMS, with the discovery made in the past few years that people with the condition have measurable changes in their gut bacteria, which appear to be more significant in people with more severe symptoms.
Although this finding does not prove that these changes are to blame for the condition, there are several reports of people improving their symptoms by eating probiotic foods or taking supplements. We believe that this is another area of great promise, as probiotics have been shown to be helpful for anxiety, IBS and depression in the past – three very common symptoms of FMS.
Before starting any new supplements, we always recommend that you check with your doctor. Some supplements can interfere with the actions of certain medications, so it is important to ensure that this is not the case for you. It is also a good idea to ask for a blood test to check your levels of these important nutrients, as this can give you a clearer idea of what your individual body needs.
At RTMS London we can help to find a treatment plan that works for you, so please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
Posted on 19th April 2022