Epilepsy Talk

Fighting Seizures Nutritionally | December 7, 2020

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

 


11 Comments »

  1. MSG food additive is hidden under many names and found in many foods to avoid if you have epilepsy.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Andrea Kay Whitcomb — December 7, 2020 @ 4:04 PM

  2. MSG / aka monosodiumglutamate, isn’t seen any more on any food or drink label and you can say the same for Aspartame, which has its own names like SUCRALOSE, DEXTROSE, & many other names where the last 3 letters of that toxin being OSE, that you can call ASPARTAME. AED’s & other OTC drugs, toothpastes, mouthwashes & alike have many OSE’s names & some still will list ASPARTAME with those names as well. It’s not just foods & drinks that are weakens seizure thresholds. Common worry & stress will do that too, and I did not list these other things for that to happen. Only to know what else that we ALL have to protect ourselves from. Always know too what is in your AED’s you take in both GENERIC & BRAND name drugs. Notice a different pattern from taking GENERIC or a BRAND name AED, it may be because MSG’s & Aspartame’s are in those drugs, as ”generic names” usually will have more of them. A&H brand personal items are all I will use, as some of them WILL have those toxins still in their personal items, which is WHY I always read any label where you know MSG & ASPARTAME can be in that 1 item you may think about buying, BUT I always think WHAT CAN BE IN THAT, that will weaken my seizure threshold & put me at a HIGH RISK if I do not read a label or 2 & just use it because you do not swallow it. ANYTHING that can go into the BBB can make a seizure happen if only a few of the TOXIC CHEMICALS are in that item you are using, & not eating or drinking. Might take longer, but still, if there would be a separate seizure pattern from anything besides a food or a drink, it’s still going to be a separate pattern of seizures no matter what.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by James D — December 7, 2020 @ 6:37 PM

  3. Generic AEDs can vary up to 20% more or less in the active ingredient ie in effectiveness, due to the other filler ingredients. I would not risk switching from brand to generic, or vice versa, for that reason as long as what I’m using is effective..

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Andrea Kay Whitcomb — December 8, 2020 @ 7:54 AM

    • Many people do not know about the 20% unknown filler, which is possible to interact with other meds.

      Thanks for pointing that out, Andrea.

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 8, 2020 @ 10:03 AM

  4. In this list you don’t mention pistachios, how about them ,should they be considered

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Wally venechuk Gibsons Canada ( B.C. ) — December 8, 2020 @ 1:15 PM

    • Bingo! You’re right.

      “Pistachios may have a role in improved brain function Loma Linda University (LLU) researchers found that eating nuts on a regular basis enhances brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, learning, memory, recall and other key brain functions.”

      Thanks for the the addition, Wally.

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 8, 2020 @ 2:16 PM

  5. Good article. It’s so hard to get information like this from the docs. We found out that Lamotrigine users need to watch out for vitamins that contain Folic acid in the form of L-Methylfolate which can decrease Lamotrigine levels. And

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sue — December 10, 2020 @ 10:42 PM

  6. Love all of this valuable information. Im printing it out to review with all of my family. Please keep informing us. We rely and appreciate this information. Especially when Dr.’s dont discuss topics like this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kelly Spier — December 14, 2020 @ 6:51 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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