Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms and contractions. The exact cause of dystonia varies, but genetics, strokes, oxygen deprivation, infections, medication side-effects, brain tumors, nerve damage, brain injuries and certain medical conditions appear to contribute to this condition. Symptoms include distorted posture, rapid blinking, an abnormally twisted neck, slurred speech, muscle cramps, difficulty swallowing and inability to walk properly. Treatment generally consists of oral medications, deep brain stimulation and surgery. Along with your prescribed treatment plan, a variety of vitamins may help reduce the effects of dystonia and improve your quality of life.
Vitamin B-12, cobalamin, enhances your immune system, aids in the healing process, relaxes tense muscles and helps your body produce a myelin sheath, a white substance that coats your nerve endings and protects them from toxic damage, according to Michael Zimmermann, M.D., author of “Burgerstein's Handbook of Nutrition: Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease.” Zimmermann adds that vitamin B-12 repairs nerve and muscle damage, supports healthy nerves, aids in cellular reproduction, lessens the effects of dystonia and improves your ability to walk, write, swallow and speak. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include sardines, lamb, turkey, corned beef, eggs, rabbit, ready-to-eat cereals, ground beef and hard cheese.
Vitamin D aids in nerve communication, boosts immune system function, relaxes tense muscles and carries blood and oxygen to your nerves and muscles, according to Judith Brown, Ph.D., author of “Every Woman's Guide to Nutrition.” Brown adds that vitamin D alleviates muscle spasms, eases muscle pain and discomfort, repairs nerve and muscle damage, aids in cellular reproduction, reduces inflammation, improves muscle tone, speech and body posture and decreases the severity of dystonia symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin D include catfish, cod liver oil, mollusks, shrimp, margarine, soy milk, fortified milk, egg, Swiss cheese and liver.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that strengthens your immune system and protects your body from viral infections, toxins, pollutants and diseases that can trigger dystonia, according to Steve Blake, Sc.D., author of “Vitamins and Minerals Demystified.” Blake adds that vitamin E repairs nerve and muscle damage, decreases inflammation, transports oxygen to your nerves and muscles and reduces dystonia symptoms such as slurred speech and muscle spasms. Foods rich in vitamin E include pine nuts, almonds, pickled green olives, spinach, sunflower seeds, broccoli and tomatoes.
Magnesium is a mineral that promotes muscle relaxation, improves nervous system function, eases dystonia symptoms, supports healthy nerves and muscles, regulates muscle contractions, enhances muscle tone, repairs nerve and muscle damage, reduces muscle spasms and aids in the healing process, according to Joyce Johnson, Ph.D., R.N., author of “Fluids and Electrolytes Demystified.” Foods rich in magnesium include wheat bran, oat bran, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, sesame seeds, flax seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, molasses and edamame.
- “Dystonia Patient: A Guide to Practical Management”; Michael S. Okun, M.D.; 2005
- “Vitamins and Minerals Demystified”; Steve Blake, Sc.D.; 2007
- “Fluids and Electrolytes Demystified”; Joyce Y. Johnson, Ph.D., R.N., C.C.R.N.; 2007
- “Burgerstein's Handbook of Nutrition: Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease”; Michael Zimmermann; 2001
- “Every Woman's Guide to Nutrition”; Judith E. Brown, Ph.D.; 1990