Supplements helpful for Cerebral Palsy
Supplements helpful for Cerebral Palsy
Caused by varying factors, individuals suffering from Cerebral Palsy often suffer from an extremely reduced caloric intake. Some have a hard time communicating their needs for food or food preferences, and some have a hard time feeding themselves. Other persons suffer from a certain amount of oral motor dysfunction and lack the ability to provide sufficient self-maintenance.  Whatever the reason, the end result can be stunted growth, especially in children.
Due to the poor nutritional status of many children with Cerebral Palsy, there is a lack of essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth and development. One particular study involved 19 spastic quadriplegics between the ages of 3 and 20, being fed by means of a gastrostomy tube. It was noted that 16 of the participants had insufficient vitamin D intake, while 11 had a calcium intake of less than 80% of the RDAs established dosage.  Supplementation with a multivitamin would assist these persons in meeting their individual vitamin and mineral requirements, which are not being fulfilled due to factors greater than themselves.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
An amino acid produced in the brain, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid/neurotransmitter that fosters communication between nerve cells. Large amounts of research implicate its role in the provocation of seizure activity when in short supply. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and when not present in adequate amounts, the lack of inhibition can lead to over excitation that results in convulsive episodes. [12 To this end, many standard epilepsy drugs, such as benzodiazepines and phenobarbital, aim to boost GABA levels in the brain. Rather than achieving increased levels of GABA when using powerful drugs with many side effects, one can directly augment GABA levels via supplementation with the amino acid itself. The addition of supplemental GABA into diet may have a positive effect on reducing seizure activity often seen in those with Cerebral Palsy. In addition, supplementation with GABA can help reduce spasticity and rigidity common to those with Cerebral Palsy by limiting over excitation.
Creatine monohydrate is commonly used to improve athletic performance by increasing muscle mass and function. Found primarily in skeletal muscle, it is thought that creatine enhances the body’s ability to regenerate energy (ATP), and decrease the recovery time from intense exercise. In those with muscular dystrophies, short-term supplementation seems to improve muscle strength and improve the many activities of daily living.  Due to the muscle rigidity, and weakness and atrophy seen in those withCerebral Palsy, creatine could be helpful in maintaining muscle mass and strength.
Many of the most commonly encountered symptoms in persons with Cerebral Palsy include sleep disturbances, muscle rigidity, muscle spasms and anxiety. Supplementing with magnesium may help to alleviate all these symptoms. Magnesium is found in a high abundance throughout the body, and more particularly, in cells. It is a mineral that plays a major role in enzymatic reactions including those responsible for cellular energy production.  Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, and is also essential for the proper function of nerves and muscles and transmission of these impulses across the neuromuscular junction.  One study involving a person with paraplegia suffering from painful muscle spasms was given intravenous magnesium and subsequently experienced immediate pain relief.  Another study showed the benefit of magnesium in reducing pain postoperatively. In 24 patients undergoing surgery, preoperative magnesium supplementation greatly reduced the need for postoperative pain-relievers, including morphine. 
Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
DHA and EPA are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from fish and other marine animals as well as microalgae. DHA and EPA are both omega-3 fatty acids, and compete with arachidonic acid in the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways.
DHA is used as a supplement for preterm infants and is now a standard ingredient in many infant formulas. DHA is vital during the first four months of life to enhance mental development. DHA is also used for enhancing vision, treating depression, and reducing aggressive behavior in people under stressful situations. In combination with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), DHA is employed to optimize proper brain function. Both fatty acids play a major role in brain function and are thought to contribute to proper structural arrangement, neurologic development, and synaptic membrane cohesiveness.  In addition, research shows that DHA exerts a helpful effect on visual acuity, learning ability, and memory.  Because of these functions, supplementation with EPA and DHA may help to optimize neurologic function in people with Cerebral Palsy.
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7 Online Document at: http://www.ucp.org
8 Online Document at: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec23/ch284/ch284a.html
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