Multiple Sclerosis: Navigating The Key Nutrients to Optimize Your MS Journey

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a complex condition that can impact daily life in many ways, and managing its symptoms effectively is crucial. Nutritional supplements are often explored as one way to support health alongside conventional treatments. Supplements such as Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, Magnesium, and others like Probiotics and Antioxidants have shown promise in research for their roles in reducing inflammation, supporting nerve function, and enhancing immune health. This article explores how these supplements might benefit those managing MS, offering a clearer understanding of their possible effects on the body.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive disease that targets the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. This condition unfolds due to an immune-mediated process in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. Specifically, in MS, this misdirected immune response leads to the destruction of myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers. This damage hampers the transmission of signals within the brain and between the brain and other parts of the body.

The symptoms of MS are diverse and depend significantly on the extent of the nerve damage and the specific nerves affected. Common symptoms include severe fatigue, which is experienced by about 80% of those diagnosed; numbness or tingling sensations in the face, body, or extremities; and muscle weakness or spasms that can be particularly debilitating. Visual disturbances are also typical, with persons often experiencing partial or complete vision loss, usually beginning in one eye, coupled with pain during eye movement. Other signs include poor coordination and balance, which manifest as unsteady walking and difficulty performing daily tasks, as well as issues with bladder and bowel control, such as increased urination frequency and constipation. Additionally, many people with MS report feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

The precise cause of MS remains unknown, but it is widely recognized as an autoimmune disorder influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and possibly viral factors. While anyone can develop MS, it is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50 and is more prevalent among women. Environmental factors, such as smoking or past viral infections, also play a role in increasing the risk of developing this condition. Understanding and managing MS involves recognizing these symptoms early and seeking appropriate medical intervention to slow the progression of the disease and maintain quality of life.

What Food and Lifestyle Factors Are Important For Managing Multiple sclerosis?

  • Anti-inflammatory Foods: Incorporate foods like fatty fish, nuts, leafy greens, and berries to help reduce inflammation, a key factor in MS symptom flare-ups. These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that can help control inflammatory responses in the body.
  • High Fiber Foods: Adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet aids in maintaining regular bowel function, which is crucial since constipation is a common issue for people with MS. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system flowing and supports overall gut health.
  • Vitamin D Intake: Foods rich in vitamin D, such as fortified milk, cereals, fatty fish, and egg yolks, are important as high levels of vitamin D have been linked to a reduced risk and severity of MS. Regular exposure to sunlight can also naturally boost vitamin D levels, which supports immune function and bone health.
  • Balanced Diet: A well-rounded diet that includes lean proteins, whole grains, and diverse fruits and vegetables can enhance overall health and help manage MS symptoms. This nutritional balance helps maintain energy levels and supports the body’s repair processes.
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help improve physical strength, muscle tone, balance, and coordination, all of which can be affected by MS. Activities like walking, swimming, and yoga not only enhance physical fitness but also improve mental health.
  • Adequate Rest: Managing fatigue is crucial for people with MS, as it is one of the most common symptoms. Getting enough sleep at night and taking rest breaks throughout the day can help conserve energy and reduce fatigue.
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress can trigger or worsen MS symptoms, making stress management techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing exercises essential. These practices can help maintain mental balance and reduce the physiological impacts of stress.
  • Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol: Smoking has been shown to worsen MS symptoms and speed up disease progression, so quitting smoking is highly recommended for those diagnosed with MS. Similarly, alcohol should be consumed in moderation, as it can interfere with medications and exacerbate symptoms.
  • Heat Management: MS symptoms can flare up when the body overheats, so it is important to use cooling strategies such as wearing cooling vests or staying in air-conditioned environments during hot weather or while exercising. These practices help maintain normal body temperature and prevent symptom exacerbation.
  • Regular Check-ups: Regular consultations with healthcare professionals are vital for monitoring the progression of MS and adjusting treatment plans as needed. These check-ups help in managing the disease proactively and tailoring interventions to individual needs.

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article aims to offer valuable insights into which nutritional supplements have undergone scientific study and shown promise in supporting specific health conditions. We break down the research, so you can work with your medical providers to make informed decisions about adding supplements to your health regimen. For personalized advice tailored to your needs, we recommend consulting with a registered dietitian in addition to your primary care provider.

Check with your physician when adding supplements. While supplements are generally safe for most people, do not add nutritional supplements without your physician’s specific approval if you are pregnant or nursing, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a history of organ transplant, liver or kidney disease, or take medications that interact with supplements.


  • Evening Primrose Oil: A study found that evening primrose oil (EPO) significantly improved cognitive function, vitality, and life satisfaction, and reduced pain and fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis, although it did not affect the overall progression of the disease. [PMC6003444]
  • Omega-3: Found in fish oil and flaxseed oil, omega-3s are praised for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can be especially helpful in managing conditions like MS. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements can enhance the quality of life for MS patients by reducing inflammation, decreasing relapse rates, and balancing fatty acid ratios. A review stated, “Omega-3 and fish oils supplementations have beneficial effects on reducing the relapsing rate, inflammatory markers, and improving the quality of life for MS patients.” [PMID: 31462182] [PMID: 37606147]
  • B Vitamins: These vitamins are vital for nerve health and energy. B12, in particular, is crucial, and supplementing it can be beneficial. A study found that high-dose supplements of Vitamins B1, B6, and B12 significantly improved visual function in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and visual impairment from acute optic neuritis. [PMID: 32669520]
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC): A study demonstrated that patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) taking 600 mg of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) twice daily for 8 weeks had reduced certain markers of oxidative stress and improved anxiety symptoms. [PMC10496087]
  • Probiotics: Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome with probiotics may influence your immune response and possibly lessen MS symptoms. Recent studies indicate that gut microbiota interventions like diets, probiotics, fecal transplants, and intermittent fasting significantly improve multiple sclerosis symptoms by positively affecting inflammation, fatigue, disability scores, and emotional health. PMC10743570 [PMC6213508]
  • Antioxidants (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E): These help combat oxidative stress—a condition that’s often elevated in chronic illnesses like MS, protecting your cells from damage. Research into antioxidant therapies shows potential to slow or prevent MS progression by mitigating oxidative damage, highlighting the need for further investigation to develop new treatments. PMC6682972
  • Curcumin: With its strong anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric is another supplement that might help reduce overall inflammation in the body. In animal models of MS, Curcumin shows potential in treating multiple sclerosis by enhancing cell growth, modulating immune responses, and improving neurological and nerve insulation symptoms through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. [PMC9369178]
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid: This antioxidant is thought to help reduce inflammation and has been studied for its potential to slow the progression of MS, particularly in the secondary progressive phase. PMC5489387 [PMC8841304]
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): As an antioxidant that helps generate energy in cells, CoQ10 is sometimes taken by people with MS to improve energy levels and reduce fatigue. PMC6381428 [PMC8069673]
  • Quercetin: This flavonoid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s thought to help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. [PMC10638059]
  • Vitamin D: Since Vitamin D may help modulate the immune system and people with MS frequently have lower levels, it’s commonly recommended to supplement this vitamin. [PMC10571821]
  • Ginger: Often used for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger might help manage inflammation which can be beneficial for people with MS. [PMID: 30243185]

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Supplement Safety Information

When considering supplements for managing Multiple Sclerosis (MS), safety is a key concern. Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, Probiotics, Antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E, Curcumin, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Quercetin, and Ginger are safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses. These supplements have been studied for their benefits in various aspects of health, including immune system support, inflammation reduction, and nerve health, which are particularly relevant for MS.

Medication Interactions:

  • Steroids and Weight Loss Drugs: Interact with Vitamin D, which can decrease calcium absorption and can affect bone health.
  • Blood Thinners (Warfarin, Aspirin, Ibuprofen): Can interact with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and increase the risk of bleeding. Additionally, Vitamin E and Ginkgo Biloba may also increase bleeding risk when taken with these medications.
  • Epilepsy Drugs: Vitamin B6 can reduce the effectiveness of these medications.
  • Antibiotics: Magnesium can affect the absorption of certain antibiotics. Vitamin B12 might also interact with specific antibiotics, which could reduce their effectiveness. Quercetin may alter the effects of antibiotics as well.
  • Immunosuppressant Drugs: Probiotics can interact with the effectiveness of immunosuppressive medications.
  • Anticoagulant Drugs (Warfarin): Turmeric (Curcumin) and Ginger can slow blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) may decrease the effectiveness of warfarin, may require dose adjustments.
  • Diabetes Medications: Alpha Lipoic Acid can lower blood sugar levels, which may interact with diabetes medications.
  • NSAIDs: Similar to blood thinners, Omega-3 Fatty Acids can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with NSAIDs.
  • Blood Pressure Medications: Quercetin may interact with blood pressure medications, may affect their effectiveness.
  • Stimulant Drugs: Green Tea Extract contains caffeine and can increase the side effects of stimulant drugs, including increased heart rate and heightened alertness. Additionally, it may interfere with the metabolism of drugs processed by the liver.

Supplement Interactions:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: May interact with other blood-thinning supplements like garlic and ginkgo, which could increase the risk of bleeding.
  • B Vitamins: Vitamin B6 in high doses can interact with Vitamin B1 (thiamine), which may lead to imbalances. Folate (B9) and Vitamin B12 should also be balanced to avoid masking symptoms of deficiency in one by supplementing the other.
  • Probiotics: When taken with other supplements that affect gut flora, such as prebiotics, they can influence each other’s effectiveness.
  • Antioxidants (Vitamins C and E): Vitamin C can increase iron absorption from supplements, which is beneficial but can be a concern for those with conditions like hemochromatosis. Vitamin E in high doses can interact with Vitamin K and affect blood clotting.
  • Turmeric (Curcumin): Can enhance the effects of other anti-inflammatory supplements like fish oil and ginger, which might increase anti-inflammatory responses.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid: This may enhance the effect of other antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E, possibly leading to an imbalance in antioxidant levels.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): When taken with other antioxidants like Vitamin E, it can affect how each is absorbed and utilized by the body.
  • Quercetin: May interact with other supplements that affect blood pressure, like hawthorn, and could alter their effects.
  • Ginger: Similar to turmeric, it can enhance the effects of other anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning supplements, may increase these effects.

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

What Nutrition Lab Tests Might Be Helpful In Managing Multiple Sclerosis?

  • Vitamin D Levels: Since low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of MS and possibly more aggressive disease activity, monitoring vitamin D levels can help guide supplementation needs.

To Sum It Up

Supplements like Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, Magnesium, Probiotics, Antioxidants (Vitamins C and E), Turmeric, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10, Ginkgo Biloba, Quercetin, Ginger, and Green Tea Extract offer a variety of health benefits that may support the management of Multiple Sclerosis. These nutrients help reduce inflammation, enhance nerve function, and regulate the immune system, contributing positively to overall health. The effectiveness of these supplements can vary, so incorporating them into a daily routine should be done thoughtfully, focusing on the specific health benefits they provide.


This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.


About the Author

Stephanie Figon, MS, RDN, LD

Creator of Supplement Sciences and NutriScape.NET. As a dietitian since 1992, Steph has had experiences in consulting, 15 years in clinical, and has operated a private practice nutrition counseling office for since 2011. Log in to comment and save this article on your board or send your comments to reviews@supplement-sciences.com