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Epilepsy and Nutrition

General Nutritional Guidelines

We hear a great deal these days about what is a healthy diet and the general recommendations are

Eat a variety of foods;

Maintain a healthy weight;

Eat a diet low in bad fats but high in goods fats;

Use sugar, salt and alcohol in moderation;

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables;

Drink four pints of water a day.

A good quality multinutrient is also recommended, to help keep us in optimal health. It will contain all the more important vitamins and minerals and various herbs and other substances.

Why Those With Epilepsy Need Special Nutrition

People with epilepsy are often more sensitive to the world around them than others, therefore it is important to ensure that their nutrition is as well balanced as possible

There are many potential causes of seizures. Those related to nutrition are hunger, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level), hypocalcemia (low calcium levels in the blood), nutritional imbalances, alcohol intoxication and alcohol withdrawal. It is essential to try to remove these possible problems.

Supplements which may Help Those With Epilepsy

A good quality multinutrient can be supplemented with any of the nutrients listed below, however you will probably find that most of them are already included in it. Have a look at the list of contents before deciding on further supplements.

Vitamin B is a combination of vitamins including thiamine, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid and cobalamin (B-12). When taking vitamin B it is usually better to take a B complex rather than any other individual member. This is because they work together and a balance of the parts is important. If you feel stressed then you will probably require a high intake of a B Complex. It is often necessary to have a fairly high intake for a short time until you find that you are fairly relaxed, and then cut down the dosage. A daily dosage of 100-200mg may be required, this is best split into doses 2 or 3 times a day. The best way of judging if you are having too much vitamin B is the colour of your urine. Excess of certain B vitamins will cause it to be very yellow. This is the only side effect and does no damage, but if you find that your urine is still yellow even when you are due to take your next pill, then you are probably having too much and should cut down.

Other symptoms of inadequate vitamin B-12 are tiredness, premenstrual syndrome, lack of appetite, lack of concentration and eye problems. B-12 complex deficiencies are particularly common in those who smoke, drink alcohol, don't eat much meat and who are on the contraceptive pill.

B6 has known properties as an anticonvulsant. However more than 200mg a day of B6 taken regularly for over a year can cause problems. That sort of intake should not be necessary, except as a short term measure. B6 can also be destroyed by some of the anticonvulsants.

Often folic acid is recommended by the doctors since it is destroyed by many anticonvulsants. It sometimes gives a reduction in seizure frequency and it often gives an improvement in peripheral symptoms such as mental state, mood, intellectual speed, alertness, concentration, self confidence, independence and sociability. However, if you are pregnant and not taking any B supplements it is probably a very good idea to have some extra folic acid or brewer's yeast.

Biotin helps fatty acid production and the utilisation of other B vitamins, it also promotes healthy nerve tissue. A deficiency in biotin can lead to hair loss, depression, anaemia, insomnia, loss of appetite, muscular pain, nausea, tongue soreness, inflammation and pallor of the skin and mucous membranes and an elevation of blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

A deficiency of B12 can lead to tiredness, loss of appetite, poor memory, paranoia, pernicious anaemia and a smooth sore tongue. The best source of B vitamins are brewer's yeast, yeast extract, offal, wheat and rice.

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