Is nutritional supplementation useful in ME/CFS & Co?

Dr. Martina Melzer, published: 09/04/2022


You've probably read quite a bit about nutritional supplements for ME/CFS and other syndromes associated with chronic fatigue? So have I. For a while, I actually got pretty into it.

A lot of it sounded totally plausible. How many times had I read that fatigue and ME/CFS were related to impaired mitochondrial function. And if you supply all the micronutrients that our little energy power plants in the cells need to make energy, then everything will be fine. It wasn't like that for me, though.

In the video, I talk a little bit about pros and cons to supplements (in German, please activate subtitle to watch in your language!):


And here are important points summarized from the video:

  • Many studies show that there is really something wrong with the mitochondria in ME/CFS. So do autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and cancer fatigue. From my perspective, however, the mitochondrial problem is secondary, at least in ME/CFS and related syndromes. The primary driver is an out-of-balance limbic system and autonomic nervous system.
  • Researchers have been able to demonstrate deficiencies in some people with ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, for example in amino acids, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, carnitine, coenzyme Q10, fatty acids and vitamin C. This is certainly true in other diseases, but is beyond my knowledge.
  • For example, I was low in vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D. I tried all kinds of vitamin pills that are important for energy metabolism, are supposed to help with neuropathies, help build muscle, build intestinal flora, etc. Except for omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, nothing really helped, some even hurt. For example, carnitine, which is important for muscles, caused terrible cycle problems for me, and a remedy that contained the amino acid tryptophan put me into a "waking coma". And it cost an insane amount of money.
  • Therefore, my advice: It is best to have your doctor test whether you are deficient in certain nutrients. Doctors for functional medicine know this very well, but the tests can be very expensive. Then make up the deficiencies with high-quality supplements that are well absorbed by the body.
  • Dr. Sarah Myhill, the ME/CFS specialist from England, once said at a conference: As long as the intestine does not function properly, for example because it is inflamed or the intestinal flora is out of control, it cannot absorb even the highest quality and most expensive nutritional supplements properly. She meant: first heal the gut, then take vitamin pills. Of course, you can also bypass the gut, through an infusion or lozenges.
  • Another important point: all the micronutrients can interact with food and medications. This can sometimes be dangerous. If you order supplements on the Internet, make sure that the supplier is reputable.
  • Whether vitamin pills help you or not, you have to test yourself. But be aware of the risks. And think about the money. In the meantime, I prefer to spend more on high-quality fruits and vegetables and make sure to eat colorful and as varied as possible. Another point: I've spent far too long in this field, hoping to get well with these remedies. In the process, I lost sight of the root of the evil, namely misdirected nerve connections in the brain.


Translated with the help of DeepL


PS: Of course, I research and check everything I write here as well as possible. Nevertheless, I am only human and make mistakes. In addition, I may draw completely different conclusions as someone else would. Simply because they fit my story. But every story is different.

Important: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for talking to your doctor or other therapist. The content reflects my personal experiences, research and findings that have helped me and that I therefore want to share. However, in your personal case, completely different things may play a role and other things may help. Please talk to your doctor or therapist before making any decisions that affect your physical or mental health. Also important: I don't want to convince anyone of anything here. Rather, I want to point out possible ways that hopefully can help some people to improve or overcome their ME/CFS or other syndromes.