Blog - Keto Lifestyle - Vitamin D and Epilepsy

Author: Beth Zupec-Kania, RDN, CD

 

Vitamin D and seizure control

Vitamin D has been studied for decades for its role in many functions in the body. Known as the “sunshine” vitamin, sunshine remains the best source of receiving Vit. D. Dietary sources include meat, fish, dairy products, and, interestingly, mushrooms. People who have little exposure to the sun are at increased risk for a Vit. D deficiency. Dark-skinned individuals are also at higher risk because the melanin in their skin blocks sun penetration. Some anti-seizure medications interfere with how Vit. D is processed in the body. Supplemental Vit. D may be necessary for people who have these risk factors.

Vitamin D is essential to develop bones during the growing years, and, to maintain strong bones through adulthood. It’s also important in brain development and growth of new brain cells. Research in animals has shown that Vit. D may play a role in seizures. A study published in 2012 showed that correcting Vit. D deficiency reduced seizures in people with epilepsy. In this study that included 13 people, only one had a normal Vit. D. level, the others were low or deficient. All were provided with Vit. D supplementation based on their blood levels, and, were checked during the study to make sure that they normalized and didn’t become toxic. Seizures were recorded 90 days prior to supplementation and 90 days after. Ten of the 13 subjects experienced fewer seizures with supplementation. Two of 13 experienced more seizures, and one had no change. In addition, 5 of the 13 experienced a 50% or greater reduction in overall seizures from baseline. Although this is a small study, it identifies a major vitamin deficiency that plays a role in seizure control.

In addition to potential seizure control, there is preliminary evidence that Vit. D may also play a role in Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). In a large Cardiovascular Health study of 2300 people, sudden cardiac death was twice as high (2 vs. 4 deaths in 1000 people) as in those with Vit. D levels below 20ng/dl than those with levels above 20ng/dl.

The Charlie Foundation recommends that everyone who has epilepsy get their 25-Hydroxy Vit. D level checked. This is a chart that compares levels.

Vitamin D Levels – 25 Hydroxy D
Deficient Optimal Toxicity
<25ng/ml 25-80ng/ml >80ng/ml

Multiply ng/mL by 2.5 to convert to nmol/liter      Source: Mayo Clinic

References:

Hollo A. et.al. Correction of vitamin D deficiency improves seizure control in epilepsy: a pilot study. Epilepsy Behavior (2012) 24:131-3.

Drechsler C. et.al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with sudden cardiac death combined with cardiovascular events and mortality in hemodialysis patients. Eur Heart J (2010) 31:2253-61

Reviwed 08/15/2019 BZK

Author

Beth Zupec-Kania

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has managed ketogenic diet therapies since 1991. Designer of KetoDietCalculator, online program for creating ketogenic diets, and prolific author. Beth has trained over 300 medical centers globally on implementing keto diets and has recently published a keto pocket guide for professionals.

Other Articles by Beth Zupec-Kania

Comments

Does Vitamin D3 conflict with some seizure medications used along with the Ketogenic diet for seizure prevention. Lamictal Xr200/ one at bed time., seems that as time goes on, the medication long term, side-effects, are increased and the addition of nutritional supplements and herbs cause intensifying of the side-effects. My husband is 72 years old and had a left Brain bleed January 2013.
I have found some reference to Lamictal interfereing with Ketosis or the keto diet decreasing the antiseizure effect of the ketogenic diet. It is all so confusing.

I’ve emailed an article to you about Lamictal and ketogenic diet therapy.
Many seizure medications interfere with the metabolism of Vitamin D to the active form which is why it’s important to either get regular sunshine and/or take a vitamin D3 supplement. Please check with your ketogenic health practitioner on this.

I’m skeptical about the claims that correcting Vitamin D deficiency reduces seizures. In my case, supplementing with Vitamin D, even when taken in the early morning, has led to insomnia, which subsequently triggers seizures. I tend to sleep better when my D-25 levels are relatively low, and improved sleep reduces my seizure incidence.

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