Muscular Dystrophy

What is Muscular Dystrophy?

The muscular dystrophies are a group of at least seven inherited disorders that cause progressive muscle weakness and then wasting. Some forms begin in early childhood, others in middle to late adult life. Advances in genetic testing now allow physicians to diagnose at least two of these dystrophies before birth.

Muscular DystrophyAlthough genetic defects passed from one generation to another cause these disorders, nutrition can help reduce their impact on health and relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms. Let's see how.

What helps Muscular Dystrophy?

•  Researchers in 1945 believed that deficiency of vitamin E caused muscular dystrophy, which we now recognize is not the case. However, many people with muscular dystrophy do have low blood levels of this vitamin, and supplementation with vitamin E has shown benefit in relieving their symptoms. A study conducted in Scandinavia showed a correlation between low selenium levels and the incidence of severe muscular dystrophy. Finnish researchers studied elderly patients and gave them large doses of selenium and vitamin E for 1 year. After just 2 months, there was obvious improvement in the patients' mental well-being, including less fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Recommendation: Adults should take vitamin E as d-alpha-tocopherol succinate in a dose of 600 to 800 IU per day. Children may take 50 to 100 IU per day. Warning: Vitamin E can cause elevation of blood pressure in some people. Please refer to the discussion of this vitamin for a guideline to slowly and safely increase your daily dose to the recommended level.

• A combination of selenium and vitamin E has shown potential benefit in improving the strength of people with muscular dystrophy. Recommendation: Adults should take 200 micrograms of selenium aspartate plus 200 IU vitamin E as d-alpha-tocopherol succinate. Children should take 100 micrograms of selenium and 100 IU of vitamin E. Continue the regimen for at least 6 months to assess your response in improved muscle strength and mobility. If your symptoms improve, continue this regimen indefinitely.

•  Supplementation with phosphatidyl choline, contained in lecithin, may help to slow the progressive wasting of muscle fibers in some people with muscular dystrophy. Recommendation: Take 20 grams soy lecithin per day for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks to assess response. If your weakness improves even slightly, you should continue to supplement this nutrient.

• The strength, endurance, and sense of well-being of some people with muscular dystrophy improves on supplementation with coenzyme Q10 Recommendation: Take 30 to 50 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily.

What makes Muscular Dystrophy worse?

• To our knowledge, no hard science suggests that any specific nutrient worsens this disorder.



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