I was recently asked if there are any vitamins that help fibromyalgia. I thought I’d post my response here, since I’m sure there are other fibromyalgia patients wondering the same thing.
For the purposes of this post, “vitamins” will mean “essential nutrient”, not simply vitamins. This will include minerals, amino acids, etc.
I’ll list the nutrients alphabetically and state the research that has been done and what it shows. If there’s a particular product I use or recommend, I’ll include that as well.
If I’ve missed your favorite nutrient (or study), please let me know!
A 2013 study discovered that the mitochondria of fibromyalgia patients contain a decreased amount Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).  Your cells use CoQ10 to produce the energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. This same study showed lower amounts of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the coenzyme used as an energy carrier in the cells of all known organisms.
Feeling fatigued, anyone?
A 2013 study looked at treating fibromyalgia patients with creatine monohydrate (CM).  They found that “patients who were treated with CM had increased strength as measured by chest and leg presses and increased levels of muscle PC as measured by MR spectroscopy.”
Yes, this is the same supplement you see advertised for body builders. Hey, if it works for them, why not us too?
Dopamine & GABA
A 2013 study showed that the brains of patients with fibromyalgia respond to pain differently.  “One brain region that showed an altered response was the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a group of neurons in the center of the brain that responds to reward or punishment.” This area of the brain (see the blue dot on the picture, right ) regulates dopamine, which helps to relieve pain, and GABA. Supplements to support dopamine and GABA would likely be helpful.
To find a good dopamine supplement, look on the label for L-DOPA. A good example is Balance D by NeuroScience.
To support GABA, I use Kavinace, also by NeuroScience.
A 1999 study showed that a low dose of human interferon-alpha reduced morning stiffness and physical function for people with fibromyalgia. 
I recommend using Shaklee’s NutriFeron as a natural alternative to IFN-alpha therapy that has less side effects.
A 2013 study on magnesium citrate and fibromyalgia showed that fibromyalgia patients had “significantly lower” serum and erythrocyte levels of magnesium than control subjects. It also showed a negative correlation between magnesium levels and fibromyalgia symptoms. (Patients with less magnesium had worse fibromyalgia symptoms.) The study also established that magnesium citrate treatment reduced the number of tender points and fibromyalgia symptoms. 
Make sure any magnesium supplement you purchase contains the citrate form of magnesium. I use Shaklee’s VitalMag because it’s blended with other forms of magnesium (which makes it easier on your digestion).
A 1998 study found that patients with fibromyalgia had lower nighttime serum levels of melatonin than the controls.  In 2000, a study was done to see what would happen if fibromyalgia patients took melatonin.  Bottom line: “results suggest that melatonin can be an alternative and safe treatment for patients with fibromyalgia.”
A 2013 study showed higher nighttime serum cortisol levels in fibromyalgia patients.  Phosphorylated serine (brand name Seriphos) is a supplement that helps to reduce cortisol. Since cortisol is a stimulating hormone, taking this in the evening can help you get better quality sleep.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
A 2013 study tried treating fibromyalgia with high doses of thiamine (B1). They only had three patients in this study, but all three patients showed significant improvement in fatigue and pain. (Average reduction of 56% in fatigue and 63% reduction in pain.) 
I love Shaklee’s B-Complex. It has a good amount of thiamine, along with other B vitamins… And it doesn’t stink! Whenever I have a client who struggles to take a B-complex, it’s because of the smell. If this sounds familiar, I highly recommend giving Shaklee’s a try. It also happens to be more effective than other brands I’ve tried.
A 2012 study showed that many fibromyalgia patients have low serum levels of vitamin D. This study also showed that when those particular patients supplemented with vitamin D to reach a blood serum level of 32-48 ng/mL, it “had a positive effect on pain.” 
Make sure to purchase your vitamin D in the D3 form. Depending on how deficient you are, you can try Vita-D3 from Shaklee (1,000 IU per tablet), or your doctor can write you a prescription for high-dose vitamin D (50,000 IU per capsule). When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia (and a vitamin D deficiency!), I used the prescription strength vitamin D. Now that my levels are normal, I use Shaklee’s D3 to maintain.
Your Unique Needs
There may be supplements that can help you that someone else may not need. For example, you may have anemia and need iron or B-12. You may be suffering from depression and need help boosting your serotonin. Your thyroid might not be functioning properly, contributing to your fibromyalgia symptoms. You may also need amino acid supplementation or have a gene mutation that affects methylation.
Truly, anything that helps your body function better should also help your fibromyalgia.
- I encourage you to think about what symptoms bother you the most. Does your fibromyalgia manifest primarily as fatigue? Or is unrelenting pain the thing that bothers you the most? By prioritizing your symptoms, you can narrow down which things to try first.
- Print this article, or the research below, and share it with your doctor. There are tests that can be done to see where you may be deficient. Taking something you don’t need could be harmful, or simply a waste of your time and money. For example, taking vitamin D doesn’t seem to affect fibromyalgia symptoms unless you are deficient.
- To learn more, read this guest post by my friend Missy Baxter: How to Choose a Good Quality Vitamin Supplement.
I’m really so pleased to be able to have regular coaching sessions and work on my health/healing with someone who understands and can give spot on advice! I think it will make a big difference! — and I won’t have to try to be accountable just to myself (doesn’t really work a lot of the time) phew! — Eleni, Australia
1. Coenzyme Q10: Castro-Marrero J, et al. Could mitochondrial dysfunction be a differentiating marker between chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia? Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Nov 20;19(15):1855-60. doi: 10.1089/ars.2013.5346. Epub 2013 May 29. PubMed PMID: 23600892. 2. Creatine Monohydrate: Creatine Supplements to Improve Strength in Fibromyalgia. Medscape. Oct 16, 2013. 3. Dopamine & GABA: Fibromyalgia Brain Misreads Pleasure/Pain Signals. Medscape. Nov 05, 2013. 4. Photo: “Nucleus accumbens” from The Brain from Top to Bottom is licensed under copyleft. 5. Interferon: Russell IJ, et al. Reduction of morning stiffness and improvement in physical function in fibromyalgia syndrome patients treated sublingually with low doses of human interferon-alpha. J Interferon Cytokine Res. 1999 Aug;19(8):961-8. PubMed PMID: 10476944. 6. Magnesium Citrate: Bagis S, et al. Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia? Rheumatol Int. 2013 Jan;33(1):167-72. doi:10.1007/s00296-011-2334-8. Epub 2012 Jan 22. PubMed PMID: 22271372. 7. Melatonin: Wikner J, Hirsch U, Wetterberg L, Röjdmark S. Fibromyalgia–a syndrome associated with decreased nocturnal melatonin secretion. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1998 Aug;49(2):179-83. PubMed PMID: 9828904. 8. Melatonin: Citera G, et al. The effect of melatonin in patients with fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Clin Rheumatol. 2000;19(1):9-13. PubMed PMID: 10752492. 9. Phosphorylated Serine: Fatima G, et al. Circadian rhythm of serum cortisol in female patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013 Apr;28(2):181-4. doi: 10.1007/s12291-012-0258-z. Epub 2012 Sep 27. PubMed PMID: 24426206; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3613502. 10. Vitamin B1: Costantini A, et al. High-dose thiamine improves the symptoms of fibromyalgia. BMJ Case Rep. 2013 May 20;2013. pii: bcr2013009019. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2013-009019. PubMed PMID: 23696141. 11. Vitamin D: Wepner F, et al. Effects of vitamin D on patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Pain. 2014 Feb;155(2):261-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2013.10.002. PubMed PMID: 24438771. 12. Header Photo: “Herbal medicine and herbs” from Elenathewise is licensed under iStockphoto LP.