This year is the thirtieth anniversary of ME awareness week. ME stands for myalgic encephalitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). ME/CFS is often triggered by viral and bacterial...
This year is the thirtieth anniversary of ME awareness week. ME stands for myalgic encephalitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). ME/CFS is often triggered by viral and bacterial infections, leading to debilitating symptoms that may last for years in some people. ME is a multi-systemic and complex illness, which induces fatigue and long-term disability that can affect a person’s education, work, home life and social life. Diagnosis is difficult as the symptoms are varied and there is no laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis. Long Covid
Long Covid refers to a constellation of chronic symptoms that patients may experience after becoming infected with Covid-19. The symptoms of Long Covid are very similar to those of ME/CFS meaning that many more people around the world have been diagnosed with ME since the pandemic. There are thought to be 1.7million people in the UK alone who have symptoms of Long Covid months after first getting Covid.
Symptoms of ME include: • Fatigue, debilitating exhaustion • Tiredness after exercise • Sleep disturbances and unrefreshing sleep • Cognitive dysfunction, brain fog • Joint pain, chest pain, muscle aches, headaches • Shortness of breath • Dizziness, fainting and orthostatic intolerance (1) • Digestive problems, IBS type symptoms • Flu like symptoms • Sensitivities to light, sounds and scents A review into acute COVID-19 and ME/CFS found that sufferers have biological abnormalities including redox imbalance, systemic inflammation, neuroinflammation, an impaired ability to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and a general hypo-metabolic state (1,2).
Nutrient Deficiencies in Long Covid and ME
Hospitalized COVID-19 patients were found to have deficiencies in vitamin C, D, B12, selenium, iron, omega-3, and medium and long-chain fatty acids (3).
Likewise, nutrient deficiencies appear to be important in the severity and exacerbation of CFS symptoms including vitamin C, vitamin B complex, sodium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, l-carnitine, l-tryptophan, essential fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10 (4).
Diet and Lifestyle for ME
Dietary and lifestyle support for ME and Long Covid may include eating and whole food, unprocessed, diet rich in antioxidants and essential fats, along with a graded exercise programme to gradually increase the amount of physical activity that is possible.
Nutrients to Support Recovery from Long Covid and ME
Vitamin C – vitamin C has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, endothelial-restoring, and immunomodulatory effects. Patients with Long Covid given intravenous vitamin C experienced a decrease in fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain, poor concentration and depression (5,6).
Vitamin D - Vitamin D is an immunomodulatory hormone with proven efficacy against various upper respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D can inhibit hyper-inflammatory reactions and accelerate the healing process, especially in lung tissue. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in patients with Covid-19 and acute respiratory failure (7).
Multivitamins and Minerals – the safe intake of micro and macro-nutrients can be useful for preventing infection and supporting the immune response during COVID-19, as well as in long COVID (8). Taking Tom Oliver’s Men’s or Women’s multivitamins and minerals is a good way to get a base level of a range of nutrients needed for healing the body, energy production and functioning of the nervous system. They include a wide range of B vitamins including B12 and folate as well as selenium.
Coenzyme Q10 – has been shown to reduce fatigue in those with chronic Covid symptoms (9).
Magnesium – often found to be deficient in those with Chronic Fatigue. Magnesium is vital for energy production as well as for nervous system function. Can aid sleep and relaxation.
Omega 3 – found to be deficient in those with ME and Long Covid. The omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory and important for energy production.
Zinc – zinc is important for the immune system, particularly for healing from infections. Low zinc levels are often part of the picture in those with Long Covid and ME (10).
1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Aug 24;118(34):e2024358118. Redox imbalance links COVID-19 and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Paul BD et al. 2. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 20;14(6):1305. Dietary Recommendations for Post-COVID-19 Syndrome. Barrea L et al. 3. Nutrients. 2021 Jun 3;13(6):1924. Nutrition in the Actual COVID-19 Pandemic. A Narrative Review. Clemente-Suarez VJ et al. 4. Biomed Pharmacother. 2019 Jan;109:1000-1007. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): Suggestions for a nutritional treatment in the therapeutic approach. Bjorklund G et al. 5. Front Immunol. 2020 Oct 28;11:574029. The Long History of Vitamin C: From Prevention of the Common Cold to Potential Aid in the Treatment of COVID-19. Cerullo G et al. 6. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 31;13(4):1154. Feasibility of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Post Viral Fatigue with Focus on Long COVID, Based on a Systematic Review of IV Vitamin C on Fatigue. Vollbracht C et al. 7. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 13;14(8):1625. Vitamin D: A Role Also in Long COVID-19? Barrea L et al. 8. Nutrients. 2022 Feb 26;14(5):1000. The Role of Nutrients in Prevention, Treatment and Post-Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). Motti ML et al. 9. Clin Exp Med. 2022 Aug 22;1-12. Coenzyme Q10 + alpha lipoic acid for chronic COVID syndrome Barletta MA et al. 10. Mol Psychiatry. 2023 Feb;28(2):564-578. Long-COVID post-viral chronic fatigue and affective symptoms are associated with oxidative damage, lowered antioxidant defenses and inflammation: a proof of concept and mechanism study. Al Hakeim HK et al.