Tips From a Doctor: RMS-friendly Diets and Supplements

  • by Dr. Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD
  •   June 12, 2017

Dr. Bowling is a paid spokesperson for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.

I see many people in our MS clinic each week who ask me about foods and supplements that may have beneficial or harmful effects on their MS. Some of these people have found all sorts of diet and supplement claims in books and on websites and have also had neurologists tell them that diets and supplements have no effect on MS. This can be very confusing!

Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to extensively research this area and to lecture and write books and articles on this topic. In the end, I think this vast and confusing area can be distilled down to a few simple and practical conclusions. It is important to consult with your physician before taking supplements or changing your diet.

Dietary Supplements

When people start thinking about MS-friendly nutrition, they often immediately go to dietary supplements. THIS IS AN ERROR. Many studies have shown that most supplements do not have beneficial effects and may, in fact, have harmful effects. Thus, the nutritional focus should be on food and not supplements.

That being said, two supplements that are relevant to MS are vitamin D and vitamin B-12. Thankfully, the blood levels of both may be easily measured, which helps greatly with supplementation efforts. There is great interest in vitamin D levels in patients with MS. Therefore, it is reasonable to discuss vitamin D with your neurologist.

While vitamin D is a trendy topic, vitamin B-12 is not. However, vitamin B-12 is important for those with MS because deficiency of this nutrient may be higher in those with MS and may lead to neurological symptoms that mimic MS. Also, vitamin B-12 deficiency is more prevalent now because some commonly used medications, such as antacids and diabetes medications, increase the risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency.

There are many, many supplements that people with MS should avoid or use with caution. In my most recent review of the studies in this area, there are more than 200 dietary supplements that may have adverse effects on those with MS, such as worsening MS symptoms or increasing MS disease activity. For this reason, it is extremely important that you consult with a physician before taking any dietary supplements.

Want to read more? We have six tips for healthier eating, as well as a few recipes, that you might like.    

Remember: It is important to consult with your health care provider before taking supplements or changing your diet.

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Dr. Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD


Dr. Allen C Bowling, paid spokesperson for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.

About The Author

Dr. Allen C. Bowling, MD, PhD is an internationally renowned neurologist and multiple sclerosis specialist

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5 Comment(s)
  • Marilyn greaver | June 14, 2017
    I would like the copaxone how can I get it back
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | June 27, 2017
      We recommend reaching out to your health care provider about your RMS and treatment needs, Marilyn. We wish you the best.
  • Caren Klein  | June 17, 2017
    Very informative article.
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | June 19, 2017
      Thanks, Caren. Best wishes!
  • Mark  | June 27, 2017
    I have RRMS, please tell me more. That can help me.
  • Precious  | June 28, 2017
    My daughter was diagnosed with Ms in February so we new to this and we trying to get ways for her to eat better you know we just trying to learn how to deal with it
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | June 29, 2017
      An MS diagnosis can be an emotional experience, Precious. It's great that you're here, and we hope you find others in the Lift MS community who can relate.
  • Toni | July 07, 2017
    I am 66 and had my first MS exaserbation when I was 24. Back in those days there was no way to figure out what was causing me to have numbness on the left side of my body from head to toe. So I have had it for 42yrs and really didn't get the diagnosis tell I was 46.
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | July 09, 2017
      It sounds like you and your family have been through a lot, Toni. Please check in whenever you need a lift.