Diets and Supplements: Do They Really Help Your MS?

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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When I read online posts from people who treat their multiple sclerosis (MS) with vitamins and supplements, I wonder how many of us do that. And if these supplements really help.

The people at the Accelerated Cure Project, which surveys those living with MS about things such as this, have wondered about that, too. So, they included questions about vitamins, minerals, and supplements in one of their iConquerMS project surveys. Participants were asked what supplements they use — and more importantly to me — whether they thought the supplements helped to manage their symptoms and to improve their quality of life. In many cases, only about half of those surveyed found benefits from taking them.

Vitamins and minerals

The most popular supplement, in this relatively small survey, was vitamin D, but only 59 percent of users thought it helped them. (I use vitamin D3. I have no idea whether it does anything for me. I do know that vitamin D is important for MS health and that my D levels have been normal for a long time.)

A multivitamin was the second most popular supplement, but only 56 percent of its users thought that it was useful to them. The supplement rated the most beneficial was iron: 61 percent of those who take an iron supplement rated it as useful, but as you can see in the image below, it wasn’t very popular with the survey group.


(Courtesy of the Accelerated Cure Project)


The same pattern held true for diets that are promoted as helping people with MS. According to the iConquerMS survey, the most popular diets are those that involve eating organic foods and foods that are low in sugar or are gluten-free. Surprisingly to me, the Swank diet, which targets MS patients, was one of the least popular. However, it was reported to be the most helpful. Similarly, though very few reported using it, the MS-targeted Wahls Protocol was thought by almost all of its users to be helping them. (Click here for a nutritionist’s comparison of the two diets.)


(Courtesy of the Accelerated Cure Project)

What is iConquerMS?

iConquer MS is an online research project that collects information directly from people with MS about how the disease affects their lives. It then shares the information with researchers. Participants are also encouraged to suggest research subjects that they would like to see investigated.

A study coming up next spring involves an online stress-reduction course. Another will ask about telemedicine, in which patients receive healthcare by phone or video conference.

I’ve participated with iConquerMS for a couple of years. I think the initiative is both informative and fun, not to mention useful to researchers.

Are you interested in taking part? Sign up here.

You’re invited to follow my personal blog at


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Greg Bond avatar

Greg Bond

Thru my research the one I take and have clinical data supporting them are:
Alpha lipoic acid - small trials done suggest a benefit on brain shrinkage and walking - one trial found it more effective than most of the DMTs in brain shrinking
Turmeric: anti inflammatory herb helps better than glucosamine for joint pain
Vitamin D: clinical data supports this. I take high doses and try to maintain my titres toward the upper limit
Ubiquinol - purified version of co Q10, better absorbed
Fish oils and flax oil

Dale Gaglio avatar

Dale Gaglio

I just started taking CoQ10, magnesium and fish oil. I also take vitamins D, C, B12 and a stress b complex vitamin. When I was following the maintenance part of the 10 day green smoothie cleanse! I felt amazing. I added protein & flax seeds to it too. Best I’ve ever felt in my life. I was exercising too at that point. I don’t eat red meat and I’m trying to get back to that. With these extra vitamins I’m really hoping to see progress!

M Eastick avatar

M Eastick

Seems odd that the Swank diet is not high up on the priority list for all MS sufferers, given its success. (Despite the criticism of its validity)
The OMS diet which is a refined / improved version of the diet has also demonstrated success. Professor Jelineks Holism study reinforces the findings of Swanks 34 year findings.
It isn't the easiest diet to stick to if you have previously indulged in all that is bad for you.. but the testaments to its effects should be enough to persuade everyone with MS to go on a plant based diet.

Denise avatar


Among other things I take, one which I rarely hear mentioned by others is Glutathione injections - there are studies to back this.
Talk to a good Canadian naturopath if u can afford it.
Mine is brilliant, cutting edge supplements are available as well as genetic testing. She can explain every med and question I have better than the MS nurses, no complaint against them it’s just true.
No sense wading through the studies and options all by ourselves. No sense accepting the grade three answers I am usually given by the specialists.
My naturopath understands the meds as well as the supplements and is helping me decide which to take for my constitution and what we can do to compliment the meds/not interfere with them.
Totally worth the money if I calculate how much I will lose should I become incapacitated - never mind the desperation of feeling helpless.
Good luck to everyone and cudose to those challenging the limits.

Claudia avatar


Diagnosed in 1991 when there were no dmts, I began the Swank diet. Twenty eight years later, even with many dmts under my belt, I persist with Swank. I'm still walking without a stck or a dog. I hope all those years of passing on red meat and fatty desserts have helped.

Jody Annastazie Cypelt avatar

Jody Annastazie Cypelt

Hi I’m Jody, 41 years young, Living in Perth Western Australia & in 2016 I was diagnosed with RRMS. My MRI showed 7 small lesions, between my brain and spine. I thought this was minor, with no significant symptoms except a numb spot on my rib cage the size of a Aussie 50c piece. I could not warrant taking drugs for this minor symptom so instead I convinced my husband and family to let me try my holistic healing way first. I changed my diet to Terry Wahls protocol level 2, started using Doterra oils, joined a gym, got a personal trainer, saw a Australian naturopath regularly, took vitamins and thought I was doing pretty good until a recent relapse at work, saw me hospitalised. I had another MRI & was told my lesions had progressed to about 350 spine and brain and if I didn’t start medication ASAP, I may lose Mobility in 6-12months as they were targeting this area and I had had a complete numb leg previously but ignored it- as I had been working hard at the gym and thought I pinched a nerve. Silly me! No regrets on not starting medication earlier but wish I knew then, what I know now about MS. Keep fighting people. MS doesn’t define who we are! ????

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience, Jody. Not everyone's experience will be the same, of course, but it's very important for people to realize that MS can really sneak up on us if it's left untreated.

I hope your treatment can handcuff your progression and I wish you well.


Cari avatar


A 15yr warrior, my MS specialist watches my lab work to determine my D amounts. I have been so low, I was taking 15,000 daily for a month. Now I take 5,000, but usually go lower in summer months. Lab tests of liver and kidney functions help determine my other supplements of Biotin,B6,B12,and Alpha Lipoic.
I eat very little food, basically 1meal a day with lots of fluids and small snacks during the day. I try to keep all in healthy areas; but if I get too much vitamin C, my immune system will rebel. I make sure if I have a pepper in my Mexican dish, not to eat extra fruit. I eat lots of whole grain breads, yogurts, teas,and usually a banana. I eat dinner at 6 with my daughter & her family- feeding my body & Grammy heart!

Valorie J Cooper avatar

Valorie J Cooper

I was diagnosed in 1996 at age 29. My initial MRI showed much widespread damage, and it was determined that I had been having undiagnosed MS attacks since at least age 10. I started the Swank diet and protocol of rest and stress reduction immediately, along with Betaseron. Side effects from Betaseron were unbearable for me, so I stopped the meds and have continued low-fat eating all these years. In my 25 years of personal experience, I've proven to myself that eating low-fat and getting enough rest DOES help significantly! I feel better when I stick to the plan, and bad things happen when I don't. I appear to be the picture of health, and walk normally and without assistance. The Swank diet is not overly restrictive, and is healthy for everyone, so MS patients don't have to eat differently than their families. Everyone can enjoy the same good foods (and keep heart disease and diabetes at bay). I hope more MS patients will try the Swank diet. It definitely works for me!


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