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.

This inflammation and possible tissue damage may affect the organs, including the heart, skin, and kidneys. The most common type is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

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.

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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:

Vitamin E

The Lupus Foundation of America recommends avoiding vitamin E since it may play a role in heart disease. The exact mechanism of how vitamin E affects the heart requires more research.

A 2021 systematic review linked high vitamin E levels with adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

Learn more about vitamin E here.


Experts believe echinacea stimulates the immune system. This may cause an exaggerated autoimmune response and an increase in flare-ups of symptoms in people with lupus.

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.

Learn some tips for a healthy immune system here.


Zinc is a mineral that helps build protein and heal damaged tissue. But a person’s body only needs it in small amounts.

A 2018 review indicates that zinc restriction in people with SLE may reduce antibodies and improve symptoms.

Learn more about zinc deficiency here.

Certain supplements may benefit people with lupus by reducing inflammation. These supplements include:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the immune system function properly and decreases inflammation.

People with lupus often have vitamin D deficiency due to avoiding the sun. The ultraviolet (UV) light in sunlight may worsen skin symptoms associated with lupus.

2021 research indicates that vitamin D supplements may improve fatigue and decrease symptoms in people with lupus.

Learn about the best dietary sources of vitamin D here.

Vitamin C

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.

Alfalfa sprouts

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.

Learn more about preventing flares here.


Individuals with lupus have an increased risk of developing kidney problems. Taking in too much salt can worsen a person’s kidney function.

People with lupus should avoid adding excess salt to foods and keep sodium intake to less than 3 g per day.

Learn what is an excessive intake of salt here.


People with lupus who smoke tend to have more active disease and discoid lupus involvement, which causes round disc-shaped sores and can lead to scarring.

Also, tobacco products may interfere with some lupus medications.

Learn more about the effects of smoking cigarettes.

Anyone experiencing lupus symptoms or a flare-up should consider talking with a healthcare professional.

Lupus symptoms include:

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.

Learn more about the symptoms of lupus.

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.

Learn more about supplements, vitamins, and minerals in our dedicated hub here.