A variety of different factors contribute to seizure activity in epileptic patients. However, nutrition is a significant factor, and being aware of certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies that could trigger seizures is important if patients want to minimize their risks for experiencing episodes of epilepsy.
Patients who have experienced seizures should be aware of the relationship between epilepsy and the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin D: A shortage of vitamin D is one of the most significant factors that contributes to seizures in epileptic patients. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is found in foods like diary products and fish. It is also generated when the body is exposed to sunlight. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplements can significantly reduce the occurrence of seizures in epileptic patients.
- Calcium: Calcium not only contributes to bone growth, but also helps the brain to function properly. This means that calcium is important in avoiding epileptic episodes.
- B-vitamins: The only vitamin known to actually directly cause or aggravate seizures because of deficiencies is vitamin B6, or pyridoxine. A deficiency in this vitamin is often seen in newborns or infants, and the seizures caused by this type of deficiency are often difficult to control. Doctors sometimes need to administer an IV of pyridoxine in newborns or infants to control seizures.
- Sodium: Low sodium levels may trigger seizures in some patients. Low sodium levels can sometimes be caused by certain diuretics like water pills or oxcarbazepine medications. Low sodium levels can also be caused by hormonal problems.
- Magnesium: A patient's immune system can suffer from low magnesium intake, and this can lead to problems with muscle function. Typically, patients who experience regular epileptic episodes have low levels of magnesium in their blood.
- Carnitine: Carnitine is similar to b-vitamins, but it is chemically linked to the structure of amino acids as well. It helps with the transportation of amino acids in the mitochondria, and deficiencies in carnitine are common in epileptic patients.
- Vitamin E: This vitamin assists with the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Proper oxygen flow is important in preventing seizures, and patients supplemented with vitamin E typically notice a significant reduction in the occurrence of seizures.
- Folic acid: Conflicting information has been recorded regarding the relationship between folic acid and seizures. While some studies have associated deficiencies in folic acid with seizure activity, it has also been demonstrated that supplementation of folic acid can cause an increase in seizures in some patients.
- Antioxidants: Vitamin C and selenium are antioxidants that can alleviate the oxidative stress of the mitochondria in the brain that has been associated with seizure activity.
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