Vasculitis and Raynaud’s syndrome both affect the blood vessels in your body, yet in different ways. Vasculitis affects the arteries, veins and capillaries due to inflammation, while Raynaud’s syndrome only affects the arteries and causes vasospasms that reduce the size of the blood vessels. While the cause of both disorders if often unknown, research has looked at connections between nutrition and vitamin supplements and how they affect either disorder.
According to the National Institutes of Health, vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels caused by the body’s immune system attacking the blood vessels. The cause of vasculitis is unknown. The inflammation caused by vasculitis can cause narrowing of the blood vessels and make it harder for blood to pass through. In severe cases, inflammation can completely block off the blood vessels and allow no blood to get through. Symptoms of vasculitis can include fever and swelling and the standard treatment is steroids and other medications designed to reduce the inflammation.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Raynaud’s is a rare disorder that affects the arteries in your body. Raynaud’s can be classified as a disease, syndrome or phenomenon. With Raynaud’s disease, vasospasms occur in the arteries and cause a narrowing of the blood vessels. Commonly seen in the fingers and toes, it results in a loss of blood flow. This loss of blood flow causes a discoloration of white or blue fingers and toes, as well as numbness or tingling. Raynaud’s has no cure, though treatment and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms.
Raynaud’s Medical Research
When it comes to dietary nutrition and supplements and conditions such as Raynaud’s, many studies have looked for possible connections. A 1994 study published in the “Journal of Rheumatology” looked at the connection between micronutrient antioxidants and Raynaud’s. The researchers discovered that patients with Raynaud’s had higher levels of free radicals and lower levels of antioxidants selenium and ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. The researchers believe that deficiencies in these nutrients and vitamins can increase the risk of tissue damage in Raynaud’s patients and supplements should be part of a therapy program. According to Life Extension, other vitamin supplements that have shown to be beneficial in patients with Raynaud's include vitamin E, niacin, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, L-arginine, ginkgo biloba and N-acetylcysteine.
Vasculitis Medical Research
When it comes to vasculitis and nutritional and vitamin supplementation, research has shown it is necessary to combat effects of certain medications. A 2011 study published in the journal “American Family Physician” looked at systemic vasculitis and the fact that standard treatment uses steroid therapy. Steroids, such as prednisone, can cause conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis, or a softening of the bones. They cause this due to depletion in vitamin D and calcium, so supplementation of both vitamins in recommended.
Do not make any changes in diet or vitamin supplementation without first consulting with your physician. Make sure he is aware of all medications you are taking and the possible interactions with those medications and vitamin supplements. Your physician will be able to test your blood levels for possible deficiencies and recommend supplement dosages to bring your vitamin levels within optimal range.
- MedlinePlus: Vasculitis
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What Is Raynaud’s?
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: How Is Raynaud’s Treated?
- “Journal of Rheumatology”; Micronutrient Antioxidant Status in Patients with Primary Raynaud’s Phenomenon and Systemic Sclerosis; A. Herrick et al.; August 1994
- “American Family Physician”; Systemic Vasculitis; P. Sharma et al.; March 2011
- Life Extension: Raynaud’s Syndrome