05.24.2017

Study says there’s “little evidence” to support the use of vitamins/minerals for fibromyalgia

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Many of us with fibromyalgia – myself included – have cabinets full of over-the-counter supplements that we’ve tried in an effort to reduce our symptoms.

Now, a new systemic review of vitamin/mineral use among those with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) confirms what many of us already knew: We may be wasting a lot of money on supplements that don’t work.

A Netherlands-based study concludes there’s “little evidence” to support the use of vitamin/mineral supplements as a treatment for fibromyalgia.

The Netherlands-based study pooled data from 27 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies and tried to discern whether FMS/CFS patients suffer from vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and which – if any – vitamins/minerals actually improve symptoms.

The bottom line? “Little evidence was found to support the hypothesis that vitamin and mineral deficiencies play a role in the pathophysiology of CFS and FMS, and that the use of supplements is effective in these patients,” read the review.

But there were a few vitamins/minerals that showed positive results in FMS patients. The findings included:

    • A 2013 study showed taking magnesium citrate in conjunction with the antidepressant amitriptyline was more effective at reducing pain and other measured outcomes than amitriptyline alone.
    • A 2010 study concluded combining exercise with vitamins C and E may lower oxidative stress in FMS patients, but it did not improve their overall symptoms.
    • A 2014 study found that supplementing with vitamin D3 in fibromyalgia patients led to less pain.

Overall, supplementing with vitamin D received mixed results, depending on the study. “Most studies investigating vitamin D found no significant associations between vitamin D and clinical parameters in CFS and FMS patients,” read the review. However, two studies did find that pain levels were higher in FMS patients whose vitamin D levels were less than 30ng/ml versus those with higher levels.

(It’s important to note that researchers were only looking at vitamins/minerals – not supplements in general – and that the research in this area is limited, so my personal opinion is that it’s too soon to say whether vitamins/minerals are helpful for fibromyalgia or not. Personally, I have found them to be helpful.)

When researchers studied vitamin/mineral levels in FMS patients, they found:

  • “All studies investigating vitamin A, vitamin C, ferritin, iron and selenium found no significant associations between vitamin and mineral status and clinical parameters in FMS patients,” read the review.
  • “All studies that investigated vitamin B12, folic acid, iron, molybdenum, phosphorus, sodium and iodine, and the majority of studies that investigated potassium and selenium status found no statistically significant difference between patients and [healthy] controls.”
  • “In contrast, all studies that investigated vitamin B1 and manganese, and the majority of studies that investigated vitamin A found statistically significant lower serum values in [FMS] patients versus controls.”
  • “Consistent significant lower circulating concentrations were found repeatedly and in the majority of studies for vitamin A and vitamin E in patients compared to controls. However, the significant difference in circulating concentrations of vitamin E between patients and controls disappeared when excluding low quality studies. … In addition, RCTs testing supplements containing these vitamins and/or minerals did not result in clinical improvements.”
  • There were mixed results for levels of copper, ferritin and zinc. Three studies showed higher copper levels in FMS patients compared to one study with lower levels. Ferritin levels were lower in two studies of FMS patients, but higher in two others. Three studies showed low zinc levels in FMS patients, but two studies showed higher levels. Taken together, all of these studies essentially cancelled one another out.

The researchers who completed the review acknowledged their findings were limited by the quality of the available studies. Most of the studies included in the review were observational in nature, so their conclusions are not as valid as those coming from an RCT using a placebo and healthy controls.

Very few RCTs have been conducted to investigate the effect of vitamin/mineral supplementation in FMS and CFS patients. That’s mainly because there’s little financial incentive to study low-cost supplements.

“The current literature on vitamins and minerals in CFS and FMS is of poor quality and stresses the need for well-performed intervention research and large population-based and age-matched prospective studies in CFS and FMS in order to gain more insight in the role of vitamins and minerals in the pathophysiology of CFS and FMS,” the review said. “According to our results, potential vitamins and minerals that should be further examined include vitamin A and vitamin E.”

Now it’s your turn: Do you supplement with vitamins/minerals for fibromyalgia? If so, do you find it helpful? Please share your experiences in the comments section! 

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Comments

  1. I too have found more success with vitamins and supplements than drugs. I also find that by eating for my blood type helps too. Different things work for different people but whether or not it helps the pain and symptoms of Fibro or chronic fatigue it is helping your body to recover because most people lack some of these vitamins. Almost everyone has low Vitamin D. Especially here in England. For me it takes eating right for my blood type, vitamins and supplements, exercise, chiropractic, massages and a few other things to keep me walking and functioning to any degree at all. I would not be without my vitamin and supplements though because as someone else stated just a day or two without them and I feel so ill that I don’t want to even get out of bed.

  2. I take customized supplements from Idlife and they have given me my life back. It is definitely not a one size fits all type of scenario so you can’t just go get some over the counter vitamins and expect them to work for you. I went from 13 meds a day to only 1 and have been in complete remission since last August. My vitamins are based on scientific data over the last 17 years and when taken in the right combination and the right times they definitely help.

  3. This article is total BS. I’ve been using supplements apple cider vinegar and turmeric for quite a while and have been feeling great. I recently skipped a couple days of this and felt absolutely terrible. You can’t tell me that these things don’t work!

  4. Susan says:

    BS. I am completely off of all Fibromyalgia medication and have switched to vitamin and mineral supplements and I feel so much better. No more side effects from the medicines prescribed. I just hope those can benefit from the vitamins and minerals do not believe this so called study, probably funded by some pharmacy company, and try it.

  5. rosemarie says:

    I got tested and had the MTHFR gene. since then I’ve been taking a b complex that has Folate instead of Folic acid. If you have this gene folic acid feels toxic to your system. The B12 you need is call cyclobolamine ( hope i spelled that right) Since then I’ve felt more energy and a clearer head. I take minerals every single night in a drink to stop restless leg and leg cramps at night. My doctor gave me 25 MEQ’s of Potassium and without that leg cramps are severe. I take vitamins and minerals because they increase health…like probiotics, digestive enzymes, greens, b vitamins etc. I know they don’t fix fibromyalgia and fatigue but they help me feel better, digest better and sleep better. I don’t eat carbs as they definitely make me feel a lot worse. I walk daily which helps with circulation and weight control. I rest during the day and don’t make myself feel guilty for that either. I used to feel guilty about the whole fibromyalgia thing but I’m not doing that (as much) anymore. Massage is also wonderful for temporary relief as is a hot tub or sauna to ease those aching muscles.

    • Marianne Y. Benioff says:

      Hi Rosemarie,
      I read your Email to Donna @ Fedupwithfatigue and it really got me thinking. I have tried so many vitamins, minerals and supplements over the last 15 years without much success. I am curious as to what you take. Would you be so kind to share your information with me? It would be most appreciated.
      Thank you!
      Take care,
      Mare

      • Danielle says:

        You have to research what you’re getting veggie buying and taking any vitamin or supplement. There’s not regulation on them so you can say oh I’m taking this, but in reality in the one very vitamin it may not have that exact dose. It’s something we covered in nutrition class. FDA doesn’t deal with them so a tablet can consist of minimum amount and use a filler to form vitamin into pill form that causes ones body to have a fibro flare. So, it’s very important to do the leg work and not just got but the first cheapest bottle sand same for big name brand expensive. Learn what they use with it, capsules, what do they use for their capsules because those tiny oversights can be what gives the setbacks of feeling relief like so many others through vitamins and minerals.

  6. Joanna Huckvale says:

    I always question who is supporting these studies. Big Pharma? Each person with fibro has their own intuition and ability to judge for themselves and should be encouraged to do so and give feedback to their doctor, but of course this will never happen because they are stuck in a negative attitude. Over a long term period with some trial and error, naturally, you get to understand what your body is saying to you. There is a myriad of good, natural (albeit still chemicals) supplements out there. We seek to nourish our bodies. It is not a waste of money at all to start on this quest. You have to persist and develop awareness. It is a skill. There is knowledge to be won for the self. It is quite wrong for reductionists and their narrow, unimaginative variables to be so damning. Also, so much food is denatured and poisoned, that if you cannot afford to go organic, taking a multivitamin is a very good idea.

  7. I think vitamins and minerals can be helpful in some cases. The problem is probably that we’re all so individual that no one thing works for all. I had an organic acids test done that showed up nutrient deficiencies, so I have benefitted from supplementing those. I also likely have leaky gut (I have quite a few food sensitivities) and candida so I guess those gut problems probably affect absorption as well.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      Hey Donna,
      I just had a practitioner recommend the urine organic acids test. Is that the test you had? Did you find it super useful?

      • That’s the one. It was through the Great Plains lab in the US. If you would like to see what the report looks like and what it can uncover, I’d happily show you mine as it covers quite a lot of things. Just send me an email. I found it fascinating that they can reveal so much from urine lol!

  8. Everyone please read about MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome) at jillcarnahan.com I have had fibro/fatigue 15 years but also seeing myself in the symptoms listed in MCAS Indeed, the article says that Mast Cell Activation is often associated with Fibromyalgia and Fatigue. Also Gluten and other food sensitivities and food allergies. I saw my hope of getting much much better through finding out if I have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. And if I do, going through treatment. Immunologist/Allergists diagnose and treat it.

  9. I too am not sure re the benefit of taking A Lot of multivitamins; however, I do know that Magnesium is Very helpful with the Restless Legs Syndrome that many of complain of. I notice if I don’t take them on a daily basis, my legs give me curry of a night=time. (magnesium and the use of TED stockings are my necessity for getting more than an hour at a time of lying down). I do take another supplement (which I don’t know if is available world-wide), but is known here in Australia as Berrocca. It is not just recommended for Fibro and CFS, but is an over-all supplement of essential vitamins and minerals and many take it (especially during the winter months, for it’s overall protection against colds/flus etc). My husband also takes one dissolved in his drink bottle, too. I find that after having one dissolved in water, it helps increase my limited energy levels, so do suggest others trial something similar.
    This does not mean that I feel our Fibro and CFS is due to a “lack of these vitamins/minerals”, as I really believe it has more to do with a Virus affecting our Nervous Systems. (why else would we get such severe pain if our nerves are not affected?). I also feel that it all has a strong connection with the Herpes Virus and would applaud if the various studies would start looking down this path (causes ). I know everyone initially needs help in “coping” , but I feel we also need to find causes, and hopefully for some, a cure; in order to get some life back, as we know this /conditions are not Terminal, so hence being able to enjoy our days/contribute to the outside world, would be lovely.

    • Andrea Scott says:

      Hi Bronwe,
      l have had fibromyalgia now for 15 years. Have tried everything. But do find that magnisium is good. I take the capsules desloved in water once a day and l have a spray. This is instant relief but unfortunately doesn’t last long. I have regular outbreaks of the herpes virus. l also think there is a connection with this and the nervous system.
      You can buy barocca here in France and in the U.K. l take this in the winter too. The G.P here has prescribed Vit D but l can’t say it does much good?
      I sent for samples of CBD oil and creme, not much help with this, maybe you need to let it build up, I’m not taking enough, or it is interfering with the meds I have to take, and hate – as l had a stroke 2 months ago. These include the dreaded STATINS! I will ask the Specialist next month when l see him if these are really necessary. At the moment l feel they are a comfort blanket an must do as l’must told.
      Changes in the weather are really bad for me. Last week it was wet and humid and I couldn’t move, today it’s
      hot and sunny and I am going to do some gardening. Keep smiling, have a good day. Love Andrea xxx

      • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

        Hi Andrea,
        You might want to research lysine for your herpes virus outbreaks. It’s a supplement that helps prevent outbreaks. Good stuff!

  10. Colleen says:

    Years ago, my naturopath out me on magnesium and 5htp and I do find it helps with sleep (which helps with pain control) and lessens migraines and some of my other symptoms. I definitely notice a difference when I get ‘lazy’ with my routine so consistency is key. I find it preferable to meds which only made me feel awful.

  11. Diane Brook says:

    I do believe they help me. I get a prescription from my doc for 50,000 units of vitamin D2, once a week. I have been taking it for several yrs now. Sometimes if dont refill in time i do feel different. I tried the once a days and it wasnt the same. I also take magnesium for leg cramps. Probiotic B12 and a few others. I to get tired of taking those Large capsules sometimes. But i start right back on them.
    Im on cymbalta and trazodone for sleep. For now this works for me!!

  12. I too am seeing a Nurse Practioner / Naturopath leaning person. She did extensive blood work. I am tweaking my hormones as well as vitamins and minerals. I am a 55-year-old female and have had Fibro starting around age 40 or so. It seems my fibro goes from different parts of my body lower back for years, then shoulders, then feet, now hands and wrist. I want to stop taking Motrin etc and have cut them by 90 percent by mostly taking Boswellia, Wobensymn and Curcumin / Tumeric. My Vitamin D is in perfect range and I take CoQ 10 , fish oil, Vit C, Gaba and 5htp and many many more supplements. I do see a difference when I am not taking them. I am leaning towards thinking the at least 6 a day Wobensymn has done the trick.

  13. One thing to note is the difference between vitamins/minerals and nutritional supplements, as they are not the same thing. These studies specifically looked at vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin d, vitamin b, iron, etc.). Vitamins/minerals are types of supplements, but not all supplements are vitamins/minerals.

    Supplements can include nutrients such as curcumin, boswellin, coenzyme Q-10, glucosamine, d-ribose, etc. Studies on the efficacy of supplements such as these should be considered separately from the studies referenced above.

  14. Pattie says:

    I take magnesium every day and also make my husband and mother take it. It helps me sleep and makes the ” jitter ” legs go away! The fact the older we get the less magnesium our body makes must be true. It also helps with bowel movements which are so hard with the amount of pain mends we need!

    • Em Dohv says:

      Hi Pattie! I have also shared the use of magnesium w/ others that are also getting older and even though they do not have fibro they have realized that magnesium help w/ their arthritis and aching muscles as well as helping w/ easier BM’s. I do not take pain meds as they do horrific things to me-finding alternatives that are healthy.

  15. Susan Morris says:

    My naturopath has me on a lot of supplements and found I was very low in my minerals. But a couple months ago I got so sick of taking pills that I took some time off, it gagged me to even look at those bottles. I knew I had to get back on them, but decided to use Amazing Grass green drinks for awhile, one in the morning and one in the evening. Then got back on the fish oil and my glucosamine/condroitin. Baby steps. I started feeling better right away and I noticed my skin clearing up. I had breakouts and rashes all over and they are almost gone after doing this for a couple months. Anyway, I think the green drinks are a powerful tool. I had been eliminating carbs too, and the fatigue came back, but popped a Vitamin B and felt better in an hour. I don’t know all the medical stuff, but I do believe this is a disease of over-stimulation of the nerves, just from my own experience. So anything you can do to take stress from your life, to include things that truly make you happy and passionate, these are the things that will make us feel better. And I stopped looking for the magic cure – this is a lifelong condition and you just have to look at everything in your life and be willing to make the changes to calm your body down, think positively, be grateful for your blessings and be patient with yourself.

  16. Barbara says:

    I haven’t had any luck with vitamins either. Have you seen other fibro websites promoting vitamins and the cost? Unbelievable. And of course vitamins aren’t covered by health insurance, so they aren’t affordable for a lot of us. Those other websites promoting vitamins most likely get them free.

  17. Rosemary Gerrard says:

    I take magnesium for pain 1tablet twice a day..I tried increasing dose but couldn’t feel it helped..I’m taking tramadol for knee pain until a arthroscopy is done so feel could be helping FMS at moment!..best at moment is a really restful&good sleeps is so important for me.

    • Whitney says:

      Hi! I just wanted to say be careful with the tramadol. I’ve been on it for years for RLS, and the side effects got to be so badly that I decided to stop taking them. I’m cutting back slowly each week, and I must say the withdrawals are the worst thing ever! It did seem to help with some of my fibro symptoms, but for me it caused a lot of side effects I couldn’t deal with. I had constant headaches, stopped helping RLS, super moody, worsened my joint pain over time. My doctor kept telling me how tramadol was so great compared to other pain pills, and I felt really comfortable taking them. I wish I had never taken them! Even if you only take them for a short while beware of the withdrawal symptoms. I felt like I had the worst flu ever. I could barely lift myself up. My RLS got really intense as it is a symptom of withdrawal from tramadol. It has been a nightmare. This may not happen to you, but it has been so horrible and unexpected for me that I just felt I had to share! Hope you’re well!

  18. I don’t think this is helpful at all. It’s very contradictory and they clearly aren’t ready to make a judgement call yet! I think I’ll keep taking my supplements until I see better evidence not to do so.

  19. Amanda McGlasson says:

    I just started seeing a Natropath for my fibromyalgia and she has started me on a vitamin and supplement regimine. I am hoping it is going to work but two weeks in nothing yet. I just need to try other options as my prescription drugs don’t seem to do anything either.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      It does take time for vitamin/minerals to work, so hopefully you’ll start to see some improvements soon. Did she test you for the MTHFR genetic defect? That can affect absorption. Good luck!

    • Michele says:

      Sometimes supplements can take 3 to 6 months for the full benefits. We have to be patient.I take some products to decrease inflammation and stress, and now I began to see a difference (my blood test ProteinC-Reactive show it) and I introduce for a month now, Malate magnesium, it’s calming and I know it supposed to be the best for fibro.
      Some product works better in synergy with other product to have the full benefit. Inflammation diet, off course, acupuncture etc. But we don’t have the power on the weather… hard when it’s humide or cold.. So I think we have to manage with differents ways, sometimes is working, sometimes not, every person reacting differently, so everything it’s not for everyone…Hope each person find the rignt thing to do!

      • garth malpas says:

        every one nears magnesium 80% of people are laking in it there are lots of magnesium the one thats works is magnesium chloride in water sprayed on as offen as needed or food grade by mouth with water 5 to 15 mls a day it takes time to get levels up i am on it now week at a time slowly inproveing
        garth malpas australia

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