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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2002 Nov;5(6):631-43.

Nutritional issues and supplements in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders.

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Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS Center, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina 28203, USA.



Aggressive nutritional intervention has become a cornerstone of treatment for many patients with neuromuscular diseases, in particular, motor neuron disease. Malnutrition is a common problem among patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Over the past decade, the recognition of nutrition as an independent, prognostic factor for survival and disease complications in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has illustrated the importance of individualized nutritional management in symptomatic treatment. Paramount issues for nutritional management in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis include caloric supplementation, the diagnosis/treatment of dysphagia, and the timing/safety/efficacy of percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy placement.


In addition, many amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients self-medicate with a variety of vitamins, herbs, and other dietary supplements. Outcome-based research for the use of nutraceuticals and functional foods in the treatment and prevention of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neuromuscular diseases is in its early stages. In the past year, however, several interesting papers have been published that lend support to the use of dietary supplements as primary treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other motor neuron disorders.


Common or overlapping etiologies in disparate neurodegenerative diseases have led to the promise that optimal nutritional care and the appropriate use of dietary supplements in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis will have implications for the nutritional management of other degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's disease. Furthermore, evidence supporting the efficacy of dietary supplements in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may lend clues to the treatment of other neuromuscular disorders such as the muscular dystrophies.

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