Nutrition

I have epilepsy. What kind of diet should I follow?

If is important that you eat a good, well balanced diet and live a healthy lifestyle. Of course, this would be true even if you did not have epilepsy.

 

Aren’t there some special dietary needs or restrictions for people with epilepsy?

 

No, not for the epilepsy itself. If you have some other disease or condition in addition to epilepsy that requires a special diet, such as diabetes, for instance, it is important that you follow the diet that you need for that particular medical problem.

What about calcium and magnesium?

It is true that if the body becomes depleted of these substances, convulsions may occur. However, unless you have some other medical problems that affects these substances, you will not have problems with them if you eat a well balanced general diet.

What about vitamins?

Again, unless you have some other medical problems that interferes with the body’s ability to use the vitamins normally present in the diet, there are no special requirements for vitamins for people with epilepsy. Self treatment with massive doses of vitamins at best will do no good, and at worst may do harm.

What about coffee, alcohol and smoking?

These substances are best considered drugs rather than part of the diet. Like all other drugs they can do harm, particularly if taken too often or in large amounts. However, there is no evidence that they are more dangerous for people with epilepsy than for anyone else. Alcohol however, if taken too frequently or in too large amounts can lower the seizure threshold.

I take medication to control my seizures. Will this cause any problems with my diet?

The anti-convulsants that control seizures often interferes with the body’s ability to use vitamin D, vitamin K and folic acid. While this effect is present in most people who take these medications it is usually mild and causes no harm. Any of the effects may cause problems in some people, however, particularly in growing children, during pregnancy or if the diet is poor. Your doctor can check for all of these problems and can determine whether anything needs to be done about them.

 

You and your doctor are the individuals most familiar with your particular case. Establishing and continuing a working relationship with your doctor can do much to help you control your seizure disorder. Please consult him/her for advice on diet.

 

Revised April 2002