Vitamins and Lupus

What are vitamins and why are they important?

Vitamins are substances that your body needs to maintain optimal health and function.  They help support the various metabolic processes that are constantly occurring in your body.  Vitamins generally need to be consumed in the diet, as the body either does not produce these substances on its own, or it produces them in insufficient quantities. 

It is usually recommended to eat a healthy and varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables as a way to ensure that your body is getting the adequate supply of vitamins that it needs. If it is becoming difficult to achieve healthy vitamin levels through food alone, vitamin supplementation offers a convenient way to further ensure that you are giving your body what it needs in order to flourish.  LupaVita offers such a multivitamin specifically geared to help patients with Lupus.

Do you know what your vitamin levels are?

Many people have a general idea of what vitamins are and that they are important for health. However, few people actually know what their vitamin levels are.  Given that vitamin deficiencies can affect your health, especially in the context of a chronic disease such as Lupus, it can be a good idea for some people to get their vitamin levels checked. 

The best place to start if you would like to check your vitamin levels would be by talking to your health care provider.  Your health care provider will be able to offer you the best advice as to whether or not you might benefit by knowing your vitamin levels, and which vitamins in particular it might be good to check.  Your health care provider will then be able to order vitamin level testing, which will generally be analyzed in a lab by using a blood sample.

Although we highly recommended engaging your health care provider in your decision to have your vitamin levels checked, there are various services that allow you to independently check your vitamin levels.  You can consult the following websites to explore these options further.

SpectraCell Laboratories

https://www.spectracell.com/patients/patient-products-mnt-hormones-intro-page/

Walk-In-Lab

https://www.walkinlab.com/vitamin-mineral-and-nutrition-tests.html

Vitamin Mineral Testing

http://vitaminmineraltest.com

What vitamin deficiencies are commonly seen in Lupus?

There are various vitamin deficiencies that are commonly seen in Lupus.  We have worked diligently to design LupaVita such that it can best address these needs for our patients and offer them their best chance at enjoying symptom relief.  Below we have discussed some of the most important vitamins and minerals for health in Lupus patients.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D offers benefits to various parts of the body including the skeletal system, heart, and immune system.  Vitamin D is a bit unique among vitamins, in that a major way the body can acquire this nutrient is through sun exposure.  However, many Lupus patients avoid the sun because it can trigger flares of their disease.  Thus vitamin D deficiency is common in Lupus and dietary vitamin D supplementation can potentially offer benefits to Lupus patients.  Vitamin D levels can be checked through a 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) test, which your doctor can order.  For more information on vitamin D deficiency in Lupus, consult the following article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4185297/

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 serves a variety of functions in the body, such as helping to keep red blood cells and nerves healthy.  Given its important role in these vital processes, vitamin B12’s ultimate effects are to help us feel more energetic, and it has been associated with improved hair, skin, and nail health.  Importantly however, a study published in the journal Rheumatology International found that about a quarter of Lupus patients suffer from low vitamin B12 levels.  Thus improving B12 levels is a potential way to help patients with Lupus achieve optimal health.  For more information on this study, follow this link:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12720045

Magnesium

Technically speaking, magnesium is not a vitamin, but a mineral.  The distinction between vitamins and minerals mainly has to do with the chemical nature of the substance, where vitamins are organic (or contain carbon), and minerals are inorganic (generally some type of metal). Just like vitamins however, certain minerals are important for optimal health.  Magnesium specifically has been linked to Lupus, as there is a correlation between optimal magnesium levels and kidney health in patients with Lupus.  For more information on this connection, consult the following journal article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16083212

What can LupaVita do for you?

In addition to including vitamin D, vitamin B12, and Magnesium in LupaVita, we’ve partnered with our team of physician advisors to add more substances into our formulation to offer our patients maximum symptom relief.  These additional substances include turmeric, flaxseed oil, cherry extract, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, and black pepper. All of these compounds have been observed to help the body in some way that could potentially be beneficial for Lupus patients.  Turmeric, as one example, has long been taken by people for its anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation, we at LupaVita and our medical advisors hope to greatly improve the quality of life of our patients.  For more information on what is contained in LupaVita, please consult our webpage:

https://lupavita.com/whats-in-lupavita/

If you do decide that taking LupaVita is the right decision for you, we recommended monitoring your vitamin levels throughout the course of your treatment.  It might be a good idea to check your vitamin levels before starting LupaVita, and then regularly thereafter as a way to observe your body’s response to LupaVita.  We would recommended strategizing with your health care provider to decide on the right frequency and timing for when to have your vitamin levels measured.

We have put much thought and effort into developing our proprietary formula that goes into each LupaVita capsule with the overall goal of offering our patients their highest quality of life.  We genuinely hope that our work can help Lupus patients everywhere feel better. If you have any questions about LupaVita please reach out to us and we would love to help you.  And as always, consult with your health care provider at any point to help you make your health care decisions.

 

 

Emerging Thoughts on Lupus: From Causes to Diagnostics to Treatments

Living with Lupus can be stressful and frightening.  We at LupaVita know that our patients are often left wondering why they acquired Lupus in the first place and what they can do to achieve their highest quality of life.  You are not alone – an estimated 5 million people worldwide are living with Lupus.

In this blog post, we hope to offer you some comfort by discussing some of the amazing research into causes, diagnosis, and treatment of Lupus with the goal of helping Lupus patients.

Causes:

After receiving a Lupus diagnosis, many wonder “why did I get this?”  Current thinking suggests a combination of genetic and environmental factors leads to Lupus, though we often cannot point to a single cause.  Recent research by Melissa Wilson PhD, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, attempts to explain an interesting characteristic of many autoimmune diseases such as Lupus – women are about four times as likely to be diagnosed than are men.

Through her theory termed the “pregnancy-compensation hypothesis”, Wilson suggests that a woman’s immune system evolved to engage in a complicated interplay with a potential placenta.  According to her theory, a woman’s immune system needs to tamp down its activity so as not to reject a potential placenta and developing baby.  Yet to compensate for the immune system’s decreased activity in relation to a potential placenta, other aspects of the immune system must ramp up to defend against potential infections.  According to Wilson, the female immune system was designed in this way with the expectation that women of child-bearing age would be almost constantly pregnant.

However, in modern society, this is often not the case.  Without a placenta and developing baby, the female immune system can get confused.  It’s as if the immune system were expecting to engage in a tug of war with the placenta, and in the placenta’s absence, the immune system might turn its pent-up strength onto itself, leading to autoimmune disease.

Wilson’s theory helps us to understand why women of child-bearing age are much more likely to acquire an autoimmune disease such as Lupus.  Excitingly, her thinking might lead to therapeutic interventions helping to prevent such autoimmune diseases.  For example, it’s plausible we could find a medical intervention that mimics aspects of the placenta to give the non-pregnant female immune system an adversary in its “tug-of-war”, such that it does not turn against itself.

For more information on Wilson’s “pregnancy-compensation hypothesis,” consult this recent article in The Atlantic.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/06/women-autoimmune-diseases-pregnancy/591901/

Diagnostics:

Diagnosing Lupus is not straight-forward.  Many of our patients can likely relate to the tiring, nerve-racking process of receiving their diagnosis, where they may have seen multiple doctors over the course of months or years and been subjected to numerous diagnostic tests without clear answers.  The truth is that Lupus is a complex disease that manifests in various ways, and there is currently no one diagnostic test that pinpoints a Lupus diagnosis.

Progentec, a company out of Oklahoma City, is hoping to change this.  Progentec was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to further study their blood test for Lupus biomarkers.  Their blood test aims to help in the initial diagnosis of Lupus, monitor a Lupus patient’s response to medical therapy, and help predict how a Lupus patient might respond to a certain therapy.

Progentec’s biomarker test has great potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness in Lupus care.  For more information about Progentec’s work, visit their company’s website:

https://www.progentec.com

Treatment:

Many of the treatments for autoimmune diseases such as Lupus are a bit non-specific and have actually been repurposed for use in autoimmune diseases from their original indications to treat other diseases.  For example, Plaquenil was originally developed to treat Malaria; Methotrexate is a chemotherapeutic used in some cancer treatment protocols; and prednisone is a steroid with broad and systemic anti-inflammatory effects.

Given the lack of precision with current autoimmune drugs, patients are justified in hoping for more intelligently designed drugs with specificity for their unique condition and with the potential to offer fewer side effects.  Resolve Therapeutics is on a mission to provide such a solution for patients battling Lupus.

Resolve Therapeutics has recently announced that it has completed enrollment in a phase 2A clinical trial testing safety and efficacy of its potential Lupus drug RSLV-132.

RSLV-132 works by attacking the very molecules that lead to inflammation and symptoms in Lupus.  In short, one of the molecular causes of Lupus includes genetic material such as DNA and RNA existing where it should not – outside of the cell for example.  The presence of this DNA and RNA can trick the immune system into fighting these molecules as if they were a foreign infection.  RSLV-132 specifically aims to destroy the misplaced RNA, in the hopes of decreasing some of the inflammatory symptoms of Lupus.

News of Resolve Therapeutics’ progress in their clinical trial should be hopeful for Lupus patients, as it represents a step towards improved treatments.  For more information on RSLV-132 and its clinical trial, consult a recent article from Business Wire:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190722005093/en/Resolve-Therapeutics-Announces-Completion-Enrollment-Phase-2a

Conclusion:

Living with Lupus can be difficult.  We still have an abundance of questions about various aspects of this disease that has the potential to affect many different body parts and organ systems.  However, there is much cutting-edge research looking into how we can improve the lives of those battling Lupus.  Through this blog post exploring some of this exciting work, we aspire to give you hope for a future where we are better able to care for patients with Lupus.