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Adrienne Dellwo

Antioxidants for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By February 3, 2012

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One theory of fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is that oxidative stress plays a key role and possibly a causative one as well. Evidence in support of this theory is growing - I recently reported on the latest study of oxidative stress in ME/CFS. (You can read that, along with an explanation of what oxidative stress is and how antioxidants help, here: Oxidative Stress in ME/CFS.)

You've probably heard a lot of hype about antioxidants and how they're essential for staving off myriad diseases. While some of the information in the popular media is over blown, there is solid evidence behind the benefits of antioxidants at countering oxidative stress, which can trigger illness - possibly including heart disease and cancer.

So how do you get more antioxidants? Food and supplements are the main ways.

Antioxidant-Rich Foods

According to a USDA study, several of the best common-place antioxidant-rich foods are beans and berries. My About.com colleague Cathy Wong, Guide to Alternative Medicine, has a list of the USDA's 20 top foods: Best Food Sources of Antioxidants.

Several of the foods profiled in my Food of the Week series contain antioxidants, including:

A lot of products in the grocery store are labeled as containing antioxidants, but the best sources are generally the natural ones - which are often less expensive and better for you over all.

Antioxidant Supplements

You have a lot of choices when it comes to antioxidant supplements, including:

Along with increasing antioxidant intake, you can combat oxidative stress by avoiding things that cause free radicals in your body. For more, see: Smoking, Oxidative Stress, FMS & ME/CFS.

Have your symptoms improved due to antioxidants? Which kind(s) did you use? What was the effect? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo Jamie Grill/Getty Images

February 3, 2012 at 9:25 am
(1) Jackie says:

I am so glad you posted this article and the other post on antioxidants and Oxidative Stress. This is a huge factor in Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia, not a little one, a huge one.

I started a regime recommended by Dr. Strand for Chronic Fatigue/Fibro which he had been using for his patients for 15 years with great results.

I learned about Oxidative Stress, Insulin Resistance and the benefits of antioxidants. I have gone on to study nutrition, exercise and have learned an enormous amount since starting the Usana nutritionals. The results are truly amazing!!! This is not hype, I had a noticeable positive change withing the first month and after six months or so the results have been amazing.

I wish I could get better by just eating a good diet, but I can’t. I tried, it didn’t work on diet alone. It’s not enough for my body. My body requires more vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants to stop the Oxidative Stress and free radicals and reduce the inflammation.

I hope this helps to understand how important nutritional supplementation is to Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia. It is actually important for everyone, especially with the typical American diet, stress packed days and lack of exercise. That is a formula for degenerative disease all by itself.

Visit my site at http://www.livewellintl.com/jackiebennett or email me at jackiegemstar@yahoo.com I would love to share with you my journey to taking back control of my health.

February 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm
(2) Aidan Walsh says:

I have spent numerous amounts over the years on the best vitamins/minerals money can buy and I regret that now because they did nothing for me in improving my overall health…They are useless besides a majority of vits/mins on the market today are loaded with fillers and are complete frauds…Pretty bottles with a huge price tag…pERSISTENT INFECTIONS ARE CAUSE(S) and water also plays a major role which could be why people become sick with these disorders ‘DEHYDRATION STATES’

February 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm
(3) Peter W says:


Thanks for your many articles. On this one I comment on an important omission:- the beverage with the highest anti-oxidant cotent per serve. do you know what it is?


This link is the same study published at the Nutirtion Journal. It includes a link to the full download, which is no present on the pubmed site.


February 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm
(4) Leona says:

I have been taking LOTS of vitamins and antioxidants the last seven or eight years. I don’t trust most vitamins from the store or fancy web sites with big ads and bigger promises, so buy mine from Puritan’s Pride.
I was basically bedridden when I started, and noticed improvement withing 6 weeks. Over the next three years I cut many pills down from 3 a day to one a day as I figured I wasn’t so deficient. A few times I quit taking vitamins for one reason or another, and each time I returned to being bedridden within a month.
Until recently, I always drank well over a gallon a day. So dehydration wasn’t an issue. Now I am facing incontinence issues and don’t drink as much.
I have had CFS/ME and Fibro for over twelve years.
I have taken a lot of antioxidents, and often try new ones in case they reduce oxidation differently than others.

February 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm
(5) Suzanne says:

Hey, I have mercury and lead toxicity so antioxidants are very important. Just found this product called zeolite that helps you detox. Can’t do the DSMA anymore.

February 4, 2012 at 10:24 pm
(6) Geri says:

I consume scientifically formulated products organic & high in antioxidants. The concentrated juice blend serving is equivalent to 10 servings of fruit & vegetables & has digestible glucosamine. I find it helpful for my energy level & reduces joint pain. It is supported by several published independent scientific studies which gives credibility to the company.

February 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm
(7) Susan Hutchinson says:

Interesting article. I’m going to read the other articles about CFS and FMS also. I had CFS for nearly 8 years, was basically bedridden. I began learning about proper nutrition, what our bodies really need to replenish cells. What a difference whole foods made! Within 6 weeks or so, the symptoms were gone and I’ve been well for 5 years. Am now on a more “Paleo” type diet, this has increased my energy level even higher. I highly recommend pure, whole foods!

February 6, 2012 at 11:18 am
(8) Rachael says:

I don’t need anti-oxidants; I need fuel. Restricting carbohydrates and fats can drain energy levels.. Perhaps, some of us are in need of carbohydrates and fats, more than others. Many high-carbohydrate foods/fats are beneficial to both your health and endurance capabilities.

The organization of muscle fibers in each of us is determined by our genes. The endurance of the long-distance runner and the short-burst of energy experienced by the sprinter are both genetic in nature. Perhaps, some of us were genetically never meant to be long-distance runners; it may have in some way contributed to our development of CFS.

Slow-twitch muscle fibers like those of the long-distance runner have abundant mitochondria and use large amounts of energy slowly so that you can work out for a long time without getting tired. Slow fibers use oxygen-using (aerobic) pathways for activities that require endurance.

Fast-twitch muscle fibers found in sprinters have less mitochondria and use small amounts of energy quickly. Fast fibers use sugars (carbs) for fuel (anaerobic) and do not require oxygen. It gives you the ability to run fast, but for short distances. The byproduct of this (anaerobic) energy production is heat and lactic acid. Lactic acid accumulation in the muscle causes fatigue and soreness. The (anaerobic energy) system is a limited system for energy production.

February 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm
(9) Judy says:

I have FMS,CFS, Osteopinia, Ehlers Danlos, Lyme for 10 years. Although was treated, I suspect it maybe chronic. Am on Nucynta Soma, and add kratom and other supplements. Am suffering much pain and depression. I was a fast twitch.as a young adult,played soccer on defense, I was in a position that required me to sprint, Set shool records for short sprints got the presidentsl physical fitness award many years ago,.never could run long distence. I hear you., What nutrition works for you? What foods?. I eat organic.. I believe that my Symp nervous system is on 24 seven. Gave up wheat, corn, soy,tomatoes, shellfish,spniach, oats,beans, peas, eggs and coconut last Sept.as a blood blood test showed me to be allergic. Have started adding those foods back and see no change.Is there a supp you would recommend?

February 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm
(10) Beth Sockey says:

Diagnosed a couple of years ago yet have had the pain from fibromyalgia & the fatigue (chronic fatigue syndrome) for most of my life. Taken so many different pharmacutical meds along with vitamins/minerals that my cabinets used to be LINED with them. Lately, the list of drugs were as follows: naproxen, gabapentin, tramadol, etc. Let me add that I have the most wonderful Doctor that listens to my EVERY ache & pain! The best part of this Doctor is he reads everything he can get his hands on in hopes of assisting me with my ailments. My last appointment, he stated he had read that Melatonin assists in the pain management. Now, let me add, I have only taken this for 3 evenings & my pain is still with me but, it is not as extensive as it has been…I am sleepy but am attempting to “tweek” the amount in order to stay awake, (taking 5 mg @ bedtime & 3 mg as soon as I wake). I read an article that made reference to this same request of my Doctor. Would love to see if anyone else has tried this…How could something so simple create a change to a life, that has been “downhill” for over 20 yrs????

February 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm
(11) Melissa says:

Geri – can you elaborate on the products you are using?

February 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm
(12) Rachael says:

Hi Judy; I was a athlete in school too, a sprinter; 100 yard dash, standing long jump etc. I could never run long distance though; wasn’t biologically built for it. I actually developed CFS while doing aerobic exercises and drinking way too many diet cokes (no sugar – no fuel).

I start out each day by trying to fuel my body. I now eat the way my mother use to feed me as a kid; no low-fat depleted foods for me, anymore. Stews, mashed potatoes, home-made soups, butter, whole milk, bread, chicken w/skin, eggs, coconut oil, cheese and even the occasional can of pop. I listen to my body and I don’t do what is mostly promoted now-a-days, which is avoiding fat and carbs.

I find I am satisfied with less food and have more energy. Because my body is satisfied with the food I am putting in it, I haven’t gained any weight and have much more stamina. It helps me; not saying it will help everyone, but hope this helps.

February 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm
(13) Rachael says:

Judy: And as for a supplement I take a tiny dab of the amino acid tyrosine each morning from a capsule I break open; one capsule lasts me about five days. I take it with a mild cup of coffee. Tyrosine makes the brain chemical dopamine, which can work like a brake. I find I only need a small amount, otherwise it’s too stimulating; helps with anxiety/depression.

February 7, 2012 at 10:10 am
(14) Judy says:

Thanks for the info. Will give it a shot.

April 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm
(15) Lynette Henk says:

I have been suffering with fibro and chronic fatigue for over 10 years now. I have tried pretty much every prescription my rheumatologist recommended and was no better. I tried lots of natural things but never had luck. I am heavier and I had heard that increasing antioxidants would help me lose weight. I started on a high antioxidant chocolate shake for breakfast and was shocked to find it was helping my fibromyalgia symptoms. So I am a firm believer in increasing antioxidants. The shake I have is the X-protein meal shake by a company called MXI. Each shake has over 56,000 ORACfn antioxidants as verified by Brunswick Labs. This meal replacement made the cover of the American Journal of Bariatric Medicine as a highly successful cocoa based diet however the benefit to my fibro symptoms was significant. I imagine it is the increase in antioxidants but I don’t know for sure. All I know is that I will not go without this shake. I also eat cold pressed healthy chocolate power squares that have over 16,000 ORACfn antioxidants per 33 calorie piece. For me this was a cheaper and easier way to get the antioxidants I need to help me fight the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

September 21, 2013 at 5:36 am
(16) Charlotte Rose says:

Antioxidants have been tremendous in resetting my aging clock and relieving my RA. Iff you want a measure on your antioxidant level, suggest you go to http://www.pxscanner.com/content/pxscanner/en_US/scanner/s3.html and learn about the non invasive way to measure. And then to http://www.nuskin.com/en_US/products/pharmanex/scanner.html to learn more and locate a scanner operator. This gives you objective view of how well your supplements/diet are doing. This was actually used by Dr Oz on his show about the value of antioxidants

If you can’t measure it – it’s not science.

October 31, 2013 at 11:58 am
(17) Dr. Sourav Pal says:

A very usefull post on anti-oxidant. It may help many people.

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