New research finds omega 3s and vitamin D are vital for lupus patients
The Lupus Foundation of America calls the disease a "cruel mystery."
But what's really mysterious here is how in the world two natural, safe, and effective treatments for this autoimmune disease keep being left in the dust... while risky meds continue to sell like hotcakes.
One thing is very clear: If you or someone you love is suffering from lupus, the benefits of making sure your levels of these two nutrients are up to par is no mystery at all.
Reinventing the wheel
Two new studies have just confirmed what we've known all along -- that vitamin D and omega-3s can significantly help lupus patients.
One, from the University of Michigan, found that those with lupus who included plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets slept better and scored lower on what's called a measure of lupus "disease activity."
The key seems to be concurrently upping those omega-3s while easing up on the omega-6 variety of fatty acids, but I'll get to more on that in a minute.
In the second study, doctors at Johns Hopkins looked at the data on close to 1,400 lupus patients and found that low levels of vitamin D could actually "predict" kidney failure. Not having enough D circulating in your blood, they concluded, can up the risk of severe kidney disease by nearly 70 percent in those with lupus!
Since direct sun exposure -- the best source of vitamin D -- aggravates lupus symptoms, low levels are practically a given among those with the disease. Close to 30 percent of the lupus patients in the Johns Hopkins study were found to be deficient in it.
Dr. Michelle Petri, the study author who just so happens to be the director of the Hopkins Lupus Center, was very clear in her recommendations: "Supplementary vitamin D is very safe" and can help safeguard your kidneys, preventing one of "the most dreaded complications" of the disease.
Getting sufficient levels of the sunshine vitamin, she added, can also help prevent blood clots, heart disease, and excessive protein in the urine.
And, as I said, this is far from the first time vitamin D and omega-3s have been found to be breakthrough treatments for lupus patients. In fact, eAlert readers have been hearing about their benefits for a decade or more!
Just last year, for example, we told you about a study out of Michigan State University that found DHA, a type of omega-3, was able to stop lupus in its tracks. That research was done in mice that were specially bred to be predisposed to the disease.
One of the researchers said that he had never seen such a "dramatic protective response."
So, why does it seem as if we're always having to reinvent the wheel where these kinds of valuable treatments are concerned?
Much of that has to do with responses like this from the Lupus Foundation of America: Dr. Stacy Ardoin, a member of the foundation's medical and scientific advisory council, said that these studies, while "encouraging," really don't prove much of anything.
She went on to say that she receives plenty of questions about what lupus patients should eat, but "It's an area where we have little evidence."
Seriously? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!
Could remarks such as those have anything to do with the fact that GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the horribly risky drug for lupus called Benlysta, is one of the foundation's top sponsors?
Whatever the reason, it's clear as day that these two nutrients are vital for those with lupus. They're also easy to add to your routine.
Vitamin D supplements, in fact, are about the least expensive ones out there. You can also up your levels by having more D-rich food such as eggs, wild salmon, mushrooms, and almond milk.
Wild salmon is a great source of omega-3s as well, along with sardines, walnuts, flax and chia seeds. This essential fatty acid is also widely available in supplement form (just be sure the one you buy contains high amounts of DHA and EPA).
As for omega-6 fatty acids, the ones those Michigan researchers said you should be consuming less of, they can be best avoided by eliminating "unhealthy" oils (such as corn, sunflower, and safflower) from your diet and replacing them with coconut or extra virgin olive oil.
To Living Better With Lupus,