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» Vitamins/Minerals

Vitamin/Mineral Supplementation

It is not hard to find recommendations for vitamin and mineral supplementation in books such as Prescription for Nutritional Healing and various forums and Yahoo! groups.

Efficacy

According to this excerpt from the book Prevention's Healing with Vitamins:

Less commonly, seizures are the result of a metabolic disease, an inherited disorder that results in an inability to properly utilize a particular nutrient in the body, such as a vitamin or an amino acid. “Seizures associated with metabolic disorders usually begin soon after birth and rarely start after age six,” says Robert J. Gumnit, M.D., president of the Minnesota Comprehensive Epilepsy Program and director of the Epilepsy Clinical Research Center at the University of Minnesota, both in Minneapolis.

...

Seizures can also be caused by nutritional deficiency. “Most doctors, however, think that nutritional deficiency is only rarely the cause of repeated seizures,” Dr. Gumnit says. Shortages of magnesium, thiamin, vitamin B6 and zinc have been reported to be associated with seizures in some individuals. These nutrients, among numerous others, are needed for normal chemical reactions in the brain.

...

... researchers at the University of Toronto ... found that the frequency of seizures was reduced by more than 60 percent in 10 of 12 children taking vitamin E supplements. (They took 400 international units a day for three months in addition to their regular medication.) Six of them had a 90 to 100 percent reduction in seizures. By comparison, none of the 12 children who took placebos (inactive substances) along with their medication improved significantly.

What’s more, when the children who were taking placebos were switched to vitamin E, seizure frequency was reduced 70 to 100 percent in all of them. The researchers noted that there were no adverse side effects.

...

The mineral selenium, another nutrient with antioxidant properties, also appears to help control seizures in some children, says Georg Weber, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and a researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Dr. Weber has found that some children with severe, uncontrollable seizures and repeated infections have low blood levels of glutathione peroxidase, a selenium-dependent antioxidant enzyme.

“We’ve found that giving these children 50 to 150 micrograms of selenium a day significantly reduces their seizures,” Dr. Weber says. “We believe that these children have a metabolic problem that prevents them from using selenium properly and that the problem may be far more frequent than has been believed.”

Talk to your doctor if you’re thinking about taking selenium supplements ... too much selenium could be detrimental to (your) health ... You can get more selenium from foods if you eat lots of garlic, onions, whole grains, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage and fish.

...

Many doctors also recommend a multivitamin/mineral supplement for their patients with epilepsy, and that’s probably not a bad idea. Some research suggests that deficiencies of vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium may also play roles in seizure disorders.

I am aware of several first person reports in internet forums that vitamin and mineral supplementation can be effective in reducing seizure activity. However, I was not able to find any broad scale studies offering statistics on efficacy, so I had to score vitamins and minerals with a zero for the chart.

Potential Adverse Events

According to eMedicine from WebMD:
More than 100 million Americans regularly use vitamins. ... Data from the 2003 American Association of Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System document the total number of exposures for each class of vitamins, the number of patients with major adverse outcomes, and the number of fatalities from that ingestion, as follows:

...

Overall, 57,801 exposures to different types of vitamins were reported to the poison control centers across the US in 2003, accounting for 63 major adverse outcomes and 4 deaths. Of the total exposures, 45,352 exposures occurred in children younger than age 6 years.

Mortality/Morbidity: Morbidity and mortality from pure vitamins are rare. One study of acute or chronic overdoses, with more than 50,000 exposures, reported 4 deaths and 63 major adverse outcomes.

58 thousand people reported with toxicity out of an estimated 100 million taking supplements. That's 0.058%. Of those, roughly 0.1% develop serious problems. I scored vitamin supplementation as a 10 on the chart because adverse events relating to overdoses is extremely rare.

Cost

Vitamins are not too expensive when compared to medications, doctor visits, etc. I scored it a 9 as the minimum score that indicates it isn't free.

Type

It shoud be assumed that vitamin and mineral supplementation needs to be adopted as a permanent routine. It requires continuous active participation.

Latency

Where I could find reports of vitamins and minerals providing relief from seizures, it is usually reported as occuring within days/weeks of the start of the supplementation.

Special Notes

Here is one account of success using vitamin and mineral supplementation to control seizures.

Return to the chart of alternative epilepsy treatments.

This page last modified September 26, 2011.

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