Vitamin deficiencies tend to go hand in hand with many chronic diseases and conditions, such as lupus. Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly, and without the right balance of vitamins and nutrients, deficiencies occur. These deficiencies can cause their own symptoms or make the systems of your condition worse. If you suffer from lupus, the main vitamin deficiencies you and your physician should monitor are vitamins D and B-12.
Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system has short-circuited. Your immune system is designed to fight off and attack foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses. However, in lupus and other autoimmune diseases, your immune system attacks the healthy cells and tissues within your body. According to the National Institutes of Health, systems of lupus can include joint swelling and pain, muscle pain, a fever with an unknown cause and rashes that are known for the trademark butterfly rash that appears on the face in lupus patients.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is responsible for bone health and has been linked to the possible prevention of autoimmune diseases and their symptoms. It can be found in some food sources, such as fortified milk and salmon, but can also be made when your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B rays from the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is common and is seen frequently in patients with lupus. A 2001 study published in “Lupus” shows that most lupus patients have a vitamin D deficiency and that the deficiency seems to be associated with higher disease activity. Researchers suggest treating the vitamin D deficiency can reduce symptoms and disease activity.
Vitamin B-12 is one of the many nutrients that make up what is known as the B-complex of vitamins. Vitamin B-12 is responsible for keeping the nerve and blood cells healthy and aids in the construction of DNA and genetic material. it is essential in preventing anemia, something that is often seen in people with lupus and contributes to the tired and weak feelings they suffer from. A 2004 study published in “Rheumatology International” looked at the incidences of anemia and serum vitamin B-12 deficiencies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus and found that it was much higher in patients suffering from these diseases and that such patients should be monitored for vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Minerals and Lupus
Minerals, like vitamins are essential for your body to function in many ways. Minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, cobalt, fluoride and selenium. A 2005 study published in “Clinical Rheumatology” looked at the levels of zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese and iron in patients with lupus. The researchers believe that the changes in a lupus patient's levels may not be a reason for the disease as originally thought, but a consequence of having the disease.
With most autoimmune diseases comes the risk of vitamin deficiencies, and you and your physician should be aware of these and make sure you are tested on a regular basis. Your physician can test your blood levels, and if a deficiency is detected, he can establish a supplement plan to best keep your levels within the normal ranges. Some of the medications you take to treat lupus, such as corticosteroids like prednisone, can affect how your body absorbs and uses nutrients, so supplementation would need to be adjusted with that information considered.
- Medline Plus: Lupus
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- “Lupus”; Vitamin D Deficiency and its Association with Disease Activity in New Cases of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Z.S. Bonakdar et al.; June 16, 2011
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-12
- “Rheumatology International”; Anemia, Serum Vitamin B-12, and Folic Acid in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; R. Segal et al.; January 2004
- “Clinical Rheumatology”; Trace Elements and Some Extracellular Antioxidant Proteins Levels in Serum of Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; A. Yilmaz et al.; August 2005