Myelin sheaths are fatty tissue that covers the fibrous part of the human nerve cells called axons. Aside from insulating and protecting the nerves, myelin sheaths also make transmitting messages from the brain and spinal cord quicker and more efficient. Because of this, illnesses, like multiple sclerosis that causes the body’s immunity to turn to myelin sheaths can cause neuropathic symptoms like muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and even paralysis.
Myelin Sheath-Friendly Foods and Vitamins
Based on myelin sheath facts, studies revealed that maintaining the lipid-rich membrane that covers the axon healthy is one of the best ways to avoid nerve damage or “neuropathy.” Many forms of peripheral neuropathy, which are characterized by discomfort, pain, and numbness in the outer extremities, are caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the axon, or both.
Demyelination may also cause more severe psychiatric and neurological conditions, like depression, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome.
With that in mind, experts are looking into supplementation of the vitamins and minerals needed for myelination to prevent nerve damage or even treat ones that are already existing in people suffering from neuropathy.
Members of the B-Complex family play a critical role in protecting the myelin sheath. In fact, research shows that damage can be prevented by the fat-soluble form of Vitamin B-12 methylcobalamin, inositol, and choline.
Choline, on the other hand, is water-soluble and can be found in the fatty parts of meat, eggs, peanuts, oats, sesame seeds, and flax seeds. One study has proven its link to better myelin regeneration, as well as the proliferation of remyelination in the central nervous system, particularly in its most bioavailable form, citicoline.
Glycine is an amino acid that aids in repairing damaged connective tissues like the myelin sheaths. That said, added intake of L-glycine can be effective in treating conditions involving the central nervous system. However, regulating consumption of this nutrient is advised as the right dose can provide higher energy levels whereas an overdose might lead to fatigue. The expert-recommended dosage is 500 milligrams taken on an empty stomach twice a day.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to be beneficial for myelin sheath health as it works as nourishment for the lipid-rich protective membrane, according to a study. The recommended dose of this nutrient is thrice a day, but it may vary depending on the dosage instructions indicated for the supplement.
Natural sources of this are walnut oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oils, which also contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that help the body form myelin sheaths.
Based on a study, the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in people with higher levels of fish consumption is lower compared to those with a smaller dose of Omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish oils.
Also called phosphatidylcholine, lecithin is a substance necessary for the body’s myelin sheath production as it contains the fatty acids, choline, and other lipid molecules required for the process. While it is commonly sourced from egg yolks, shrimp, and liver, lecithin can also be found in vegetarian food like soybeans, wheat germ, brussels sprouts, and peanut butter.
While it is more popular for keeping the thyroid gland healthy, iodine is also needed for better myelination. This is because scientists discovered that insufficient thyroid hormones actually impair the production of myelin sheaths as the oligodendroglia— the cells responsible for myelination— stop functioning with the lack of thyroid hormones.
For more information on myelin sheath and neuropathy, go to www.NervePainGuide.org.