Epilepsy Talk

Fighting Seizures Nutritionally | October 6, 2018

I know from personal experience as a Health & Wellness writer that certain nutrients can help your neuro functions.

But, like anything else, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

What food combinations that work for one might definitely not work for another.

And it certainly doesn’t take the place of meds.

However, I do believe that although living a healthy lifestyle won’t cure you…it can certainly help you.

So, here’s some information for sensible eating and supplementing your diet.

Bear in mind, it is not a substitute for your meds.

(Factoid: herbs are considered a chemical and can affect the way anti-epileptic drugs work.  So, DON’T reduce or stop taking your meds.  Because that could lead to big-time seizures.  Before you take supplements, ask your doc.)

NUTRITION

Obviously, you should get most of your vitamins from food by eating a balanced diet.

If necessary, vitamin supplements such as folic acid can help deal with vitamin loss caused by medication.

People with epilepsy taking seizure medications seem to have more of a need for Calcium and Vitamin D to help keep healthy bones.

VITAMINS

Vitamin B-6 — The all-star of vitamins. Involved in critical functions of the nervous system.  Boosts the metabolism of various neurotransmitters which are needed for normal brain function

Foods: Fresh juicy fruits like apples, oranges, grapefruits, grapes, (especially grape juice), pineapples, peaches, pears and lemons…green leafy vegetables, carrots, peanuts, rice, milk, cereals, seeds, nuts and grain.

Vitamin B3 (or Niacin) — Improves circulation and is helpful for many brain-related disorders. It enhances the treatment of epilepsy when used with anticonvulsants.

Foods: Some foods rich in niacin are fish, lean meats, nuts, and poultry.

Vitamin B6 — A necessary co-factor in the metabolism of a variety of neurotransmitters.  It’s needed for normal brain function.

Foods: Protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, beans, and nuts are good sources. Other foods rich in Vitamin B6 include brewer’s yeast, milk, rice, green leafy vegetables, peanuts, carrots and cereals.

Vitamin B12 — Needed for proper digestion, the formation of cells, and the production of myelin, the protective coating surrounding the nerves. Vitamin B12 helps prevent nerve damage and levels may be reduced by some anticonvulsant drugs.

Foods: Liver (best source), beef, chicken, pork/ham, fish, whole eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt.

Vitamin B5 (Panothenic acid) – Is the anti-stress vitamin.

Foods: Broccoli, turnip greens and sunflower seeds, crimini mushrooms, corn, winter squash and strawberries.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) – Necessary for the health of the nervous system.

Foods: Liver, lentils, rice germ, brewer’s yeast, soy flour, black-eyed peas, navy beans, kidney beans, peanuts, spinach, turnip greens, lima beans, whole wheat, and asparagus. (NOTE: Folic acid may be depleted during seizures and in some people with seizures. However, taking extra folic acid can reduce the effectiveness of anticonvulsant drugs and lead to more seizures. Take folic acid only under your doctor’s supervision.)

Vitamin C — Vital to functioning of the adrenal glands, which are the anti-stress glands.

Foods: It’s more than just citrus fruits that provide Vitamin C.  You’ll also find it in broccoli, tomatoes, red, orange and yellow peppers (more than green), baked potatoes, papaya, mango and kiwi.

Vitamin D Low vitamin D levels are associated with depression as well as epilepsy. However many doctors aren’t aware of this and don’t include it in blood tests.  It’s called the “sun vitamin” since the most effective way (other than supplements) to get vitamin D is from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Foods: Sources of vitamin D unfortunately rely upon fortified foods like milk. However, even though milk is fortified with vitamin D, dairy products made from milk such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream are generally not. Only a few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D, including fatty fish and fish oils.

Vitamin E — The Canadian Journal of Neurological Science published a study showing that vitamin E deficiency produces seizures. This powerful antioxidant protects the body from damage by free radicals and aids circulation.

Foods: Almonds, canola oil and broccoli, vegetable oils, wheat germ oil, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.

MINERALS

Calcium – When balanced with magnesium, it helps prevent bone loss.  However, you should know that calcium can interfere with anticonvulsant drugs and should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision.

Foods: Cheese, yogurt,  milk, sardines, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens. Fortified cereals such as Total, Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes (they have a lot of calcium in one serving),  fortified orange juice, enriched breads, grains, and waffles.

Magnesium — (Needed to balance with calcium.) This mineral, when aligned correctly with calcium, achieves equilibrium for us all.

Foods: Nuts and seeds; including almonds, peanuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.  Leafy greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard, plus black beans, sea kelp, basil, bananas, and halibut.

Manganese — Plays a significant role in cerebral function. Manganese (5 mg per day) levels are often low in people with epilepsy.

Foods: Whole grains, leafy greens and legumes are your best suppliers of manganese, along with nuts, and teas.

Selenium — Found to significantly reduce seizures.

Foods: Brazil nuts are the single most selenium rich food in the world. In selenium rich soil areas, it can be found in meat (kidney, liver, poultry and meat especially), garlic, onions, broccoli, eggs, mushrooms, walnuts, sunflower seeds and wheat. Selenium is also found in seafood like tuna, crab and especially lobster!

Zinc — Needed for bone growth and is often deficient in those with epilepsy.

Foods: Meat, eggs, seafood (especially oysters) and non-animal sources like whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, nuts, and legumes.

FOOD NO-NOS

You’re probably well aware of these, but here’s a gentle reminder…

Alcohol — People who drink too much have three times the normal risk of developing epilepsy, a risk similar to that of people who’ve had head injuries or central nervous system infections.

When used frequently or in large amounts, alcohol may interfere with the anticonvulsant medication and may lower seizure threshold.

Caffeine — Observations suggest that caffeine (cocoa, coffee, tea, cola,) can exacerbate seizures in people with epilepsy, especially when combined.

Aspartame — We have known for many years that aspartame lowers the seizure threshold. To combine an anticonvulsive with aspartame makes seizures more likely.

Studies have confirmed that aspartame triggers both seizures and epilepsy.  The FDA list of reactions to aspartame included seizures and convulsions, grand mal seizures, petit mal seizures, (now called absence seizures), simple partial seizures & complex partial seizures.

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Resources:

http://www.healingwithnutrition.com/edisease/epilepsy/pplan.html

http://ibdcrohns.about.com/od/relatedconditions/a/fdavitd.htm

https://www.epilepsy.com/connect/forums/living-epilepsy-adults/foods-fight-stress%E2%80%A6

http://www.thedaisygarland.org.uk/epilepsy-and-vitamins-minerals

https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/diet-and-nutrition

 

 


12 Comments »

  1. Aspartame always has been ‘bad stuff’. It gave me dull headaches- 24 hours a day- until I had read about the side effect. Discontinued using it; headaches went away; used it again- headaches returned. Eating without it was very difficult. Factories were unaware of the dangers from the product. Just in the past couple years manufacturers are eliminating the aspartame and making use of other sweeteners.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Karen — October 6, 2018 @ 1:43 PM

  2. Good stuff in knowing what vitamins & minerals are needed daily & how important it is to have it all daily knowing all AED’s will & do affect our immune system. All additives, preservatives & chemicals in all foods & drugs is never working in any persons favor no matter WHAT the condition one may have. So it is as important to not have MSG’s as there are more than 100 NAMES used for monosodiumglutamate / MSG, which I am 1000% sure less than 5% of all people on earth benefit from MSG foods & drinks, who do not get BAD results from it all. http://www.msgtruth.org http://www.saynotomsg.com or just type,, What do I eat ? and check into http://www.mgsnews.org http://www.truthinlabeling.org

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by CD — October 6, 2018 @ 4:30 PM

  3. When people look at the foods they eat & check out everything they have 365 days a year, then compare all things in foods & drinks to the DRUGS and what is in them on http://www.dailymed.nlm.nih.gov The National Library of Medicine has every drug ever made listed that still sells anywhere to examine ALL ingredients in what people take. Hearing every TV ad on drugs seems to all cause seizures as a SIDE AFFECT. That being so, when you compare drugs & foods & see where BOTH have the same or similar chemicals & additives in each, & if THAT is not why there are more than 70 MILLION with seizures today, compared to just 10 MILLION in 1975 who had seizures, then you can not pretend that this problem has been happening over the past 45 years or more. When people start comparing & learning WHAT causes or triggers seizures, & all SILENCE remains as a NO RESPONSE to a serious brain issue, then the medical drug & food world will always defeat us 365 days a year. Those web sites are NOT propaganda, as all you need to know is how all foods have changed since the end of WW 2, & how foods are made everywhere since 1973 when MICROWAVES started being used in every household since. Even bedrooms today can have microwaves in them, as it is not bad enough to go to bed with a cell or smartphone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by CD — October 6, 2018 @ 4:41 PM

  4. A good way to get D3 is D-Drops. They usually are in Fractionated Coconut oil and can be put on your food. Also a Verilux HappyLight is another way to stimulate your D. It’s a portable light that has helped with depression, SAD, and other mood issues that are caused by lack of sunlight. It only takes a short time, and you don’t look directly at it when you are in front of it. You can actually buy the HappyLight on Amazon. I actually get a lot of the nutrients you mention through my whole food supplements. Calcium Lactate is the best kind of Calcium for the body too. I recently started taking Zinc Liver Chelate again after being off it for many years. I show my Functional Medicine aunt all my test results and she said they were a little higher than they should be earlier this year. It has kind of been helping the swelling a bit, but I still have swelling in my legs and feet. I don’t have Diabetes, but we really haven’t been able to solve why I got the swelling in the first place. It might have been a rebound from the Raynaud’s phenomena I had last year though, the blue hue has gone away from my feet and hands, as well as the tip of my nose, so I really don’t know what to think about the swelling. I have a history of kidney disorder, but they have run some tests for that and my primary and Walk-in doctors have told me I don’t have a kidney problem, we eliminated Autoimmune too. I know I have always been a complicated case medically, so it’s hard to come to a conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by trekkie80sgirl — October 7, 2018 @ 3:16 AM

    • You may be a complicated case, but you’re an incredibly pro-active person.

      Thanks for the tips and education.

      They’ll go a long way.

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 7, 2018 @ 9:59 AM

  5. How much of each vitamin should we get?

    Like

    Comment by Elizabeth Masten — October 9, 2018 @ 12:52 PM

  6. My neurologist (in 1980) explained the importance of eating three balanced meals a day and to stay hydrated (little caffeine). I learned that some fast foods were triggers to my seizures. It took a while to realize this for it did not happen every time. However, there was a pattern to eating a particular hamburger at a fast food restaurant and having a seizure.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jon Sadler — October 18, 2018 @ 10:38 AM

    • Fast food really is poison. I try to keep away from it whenever I can.

      So, I’m glad you’re doing the same. 🙂

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 18, 2018 @ 11:04 AM


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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