People with lupus should avoid certain supplements, including spirulina, vitamin E, and echinacea, to decrease the risk of flare-ups of symptoms. However, other supplements may benefit someone with lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune condition that leads to widespread inflammation in the body. For unknown reasons, the immune system attacks the organs, causing inflammation.
There is no cure for lupus, but there are ways to treat and manage the condition. Lupus management may include dietary considerations, which can decrease inflammation and reduce organ damage.
This article looks at which supplements are beneficial and which are not.
According to some experts, there is no specific diet for lupus. However, research has identified certain supplements that people with lupus should avoid.
Individual nutritional needs may vary, and working with a healthcare professional can help determine the most beneficial supplements and which to avoid.
In general, supplements to avoid with lupus include:
A 2021 systematic review linked high vitamin E levels with adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
Taking echinacea long term may also cause a low white blood cell count.
A 2021 study found that taking echinacea or other supplements that stimulate the immune system may cause a flare-up of autoimmune conditions, such as lupus.
Learn about other autoimmune conditions here.
Similarly to echinacea, spirulina may also stimulate immune system cells.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that strengthens and regulates the immune system. However, boosting the immune system may cause an increase in symptoms for people with lupus.
A 2018 review indicates that zinc restriction in people with SLE may reduce antibodies and improve symptoms.
Certain supplements may benefit people with lupus by reducing inflammation. These supplements include:
Vitamin C modulates immune functions and may reduce inflammation, which potentially helps decrease lupus symptoms.
Vitamin C also protects against cell damage from free radicals (atoms linked to illness, such as heart disease and cancer). The maximum dose of vitamin C for a person with lupus is 1 gram (g) daily.
Learn what happens when you take too much vitamin C here.
Omega-3 supplements have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit people with lupus. A 2020 research article suggests taking omega-3 may reduce lupus progression and improve outcomes.
Learn how much omega-3 to take each day here.
People with lupus may need to avoid other foods and substances to manage their condition.
A chemical found in alfalfa sprouts, L-canavanine, may trigger symptoms in people with lupus. The chemical stimulates the immune system and may increase the abnormal inflammatory response in lupus.
Learn about other foods to eat and avoid with lupus here.
Too much sun exposure
The UV radiation from the sun can damage cells. Typically, the body gets rid of the damaged cells.
People with lupus have an increased sensitivity to damage from the sun, and it takes the body longer to clear the cells. This can trigger an immune system response and increase inflammation.
Also, tobacco products may interfere with some lupus medications.
Anyone experiencing lupus symptoms or a flare-up should consider talking with a healthcare professional.
Lupus is a complex disease that requires a comprehensive treatment plan to prevent organ damage and reduce flare-ups. If an individual with lupus has frequent symptoms, they should speak to their doctor.
Always talk with a healthcare professional before stopping or starting any supplements. Supplements may interfere with certain lupus medications.
People with lupus should avoid certain supplements, including echinacea, spirulina, and vitamin E. These supplements may increase the immune system response and trigger lupus symptoms.
It is also helpful to avoid excess sun exposure, salt, and alfalfa sprouts, which may also make symptoms worse.
Other supplements, such as omega-3 and vitamins D and C, may benefit people with lupus.