When I initially started treating my Lyme disease, I was taking three different antibiotics at a time. My doctor told me that it was very important to take supplements as well, because the antibiotics were interfering with my body’s normal processes and functioning. Not to mention the damage being done to the gut flora. Every day when it became time to take my antibiotics, I would grimace and force them down, because I felt like I was harming my body, caught in the crossfire between me and this nasty disease. When it became time to take my vitamins, I gladly gulped them down and hoped my body would feel happy and nourished that I was sending “help.” Maybe it sounds silly, but that’s how I felt.
Now a few months later, even though I’m not on antibiotics, I still take several vitamins and probiotics each day (not to mention the herbal medications). I still believe that they are necessary to help my body function, and be in as good of a condition as possible to fight this disease. The main vitamins and supplements that I take every day are Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Magnesium (glycinate), Interfase Plus, L-Glutamine and probiotics. They each have a specific function, and I will go into that below. Before I start, I want to remind everyone that I am not a doctor, and to please consult with a doctor or pharmacist before you start loading up on vitamins and supplements. They have helped me on my Lyme journey, but we all have different ecosystems in our body, so dosages will differ from person to person.
Vitamin C – This one is kind of obvious. Vitamin C is huge for the immune system. But it also has another effect – It alkalinizes the body. This is good because Lyme (and other pathogens and diseases including cancer) have a harder time thriving in an alkaline environment. An alkaline environment also helps with detoxification, which is key when you’re killing off all kinds of bacteria inside your body. People with Lyme are all too familiar with the Herxheimer reaction, which can be lessened if you promote an alkaline environment. I take 1000 mg/day.
Vitamin D – Also really important for immune function. Everyone that I know (besides my mom who drinks a gallon of milk a day) is deficient in vitamin D. Also important for bone health! You can get tested if you’re not sure – your level should be between 50-70 ng/dl. I take 50 mg/day.
Honorable mention: Vitamin B – Antibiotics and other prescription medications (notably the birth control pill) deplete the B Vitamins. Each of the B vitamins works in a slightly different capacity, but they help with everything from energy to brain function. B12 is especially important, and unfortunately most people are deficient in it. Most B multivitamins do not contain enough B12, so you can take a separate supplement. I started on a B Multivitamin when I started antibiotics, but because of my interstitial cystitis (bladder inflammation), it caused me irritation and pain. When things are better, I’ll start on it again, but for right now I try to eat a lot of food rich in B Vitamins.
Zinc – Zinc has been shown to support the immune system and lessen inflammation. It is necessary to build proteins and DNA, and also helps balance hormones. I take 25 mg/day.
Magnesium (glycinate) – Nearly 80% of Americans are not getting enough of this extremely important mineral. When we take certain prescription drugs or antibiotics, our ability to absorb magnesium from food is depleted. Therefore it becomes necessary to take a supplement until the body is functioning as usual again. Magnesium is really important for detoxing, but also involved in over 300 other biochemical processes in the body as well. I take 100 mg/day but adults can safely take up to 300mg/day. Also, I was taking magnesium citrate before – it works just as well but has a slight laxative effect (which might be good for some people). I found magnesium glycinate to work better with my digestive system.
Saccharomyces Boulardii: I take this kind from Jarrow Pharmaceuticals. It’s a beneficial strain of yeast, which is very important when you’re on antibiotics. I was able to avoid a yeast infection the whole time I was on antibiotics, and I think it was largely because of this (and a low/no sugar diet). People remember to replenish good bacteria when they’re on antibiotics, but they often forget about yeast, which is how you get systemic candida problems. So, think about yeast! I take one/day.
Jarrow Femdophilus: This is another probiotic, but consists of bacteria normally found in the vaginal/urinary tract. Since I had a history of urinary tract infections, I knew this was something I needed to focus on building up. The makers of this drug have formulated it in a way that ensures the bacteria make it all the way to the vaginal/urinary tract, something that many ordinary probiotics are not designed to do. I take one/day.
Soil-Based Probiotic: I use this kind from Prescript Assist. It’s shelf-stable, features a wider variety of bacteria than other probiotics, and is formulated to survive the GI tract and make it to the intestines where it is most needed. I take one/day.
Interfase Plus – This is a collection of enzymes that help me to digest food and dissolve biofilms, a big factor in Lyme treatment. Biofilms occur when masses of Lyme bacteria create a web of proteins around them, so that they cannot be reached by the immune system and antibiotics as easily. I take a supplement from Klaire Labs which contains EDTA, an ingredient essential to biofilm destruction. I usually take 2 pills a day, but you can take up to 4/day.
L-Glutamine – I get this supplement from the same source as my herbs, Nature’s Pharmacy . The label says it, “supports healthy digestive, immune and muscular system function.” When I first got it, I did some research and came across this article from Dr. Axe, also singing its praises. I do feel like my digestive system has been better, and my joints somehow feel less achey on it. If you’re having similar problems, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.
Like I said, these are the things that have helped me, but it’s no guarantee that they will be right for you. I hope, however, that you have learned some things about supplements, and that this knowledge will help you to ask questions of your doctor or healthcare provider, to provide you with the best possible care. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, and I will do my best to answer.
What vitamins and supplements do you swear by? Do you take them regularly or only when you’re feeling sick? What supplements have you introduced into your regimen for Lyme?