Almost everyone is familiar with the Beatles' song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” but most people don't realize that Lucy was a real person and the subject of a childhood drawing by her kindergarten classmate, Julian Lennon. After hearing his son explain that the drawing depicts his friend Lucy in the sky with diamonds, John Lennon co-wrote the now classic song with fellow Beatle Paul McCartney. The story does not end there, however, and now has come full circle. Lucy Vodden passed away last September from complications of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease she had struggled with since 2005
After learning of her death, Julian and fellow musician James Scott Cook decided to use the song, “Lucy,” which they were recording together, to raise awareness of lupus and generate funds for lupus research. Ironically, James' grandmother also is named Lucy and has lupus. Cook is convinced that the way the song fell into place was destiny.
The spring issue of the Lupus Foundation of America's (LFA) national magazine, Lupus Now(R), describes “Lucy's Legacy,” and includes photos of Lucy Vodden, Lucy Cook, James and Julian, and provides information on how funds generated from the sale of “Lucy” are being used by the LFA and St. Thomas' Lupus Trust in the United Kingdom to support lupus research. Lupus Now also includes practical tips for living with Sjogren's syndrome and Raynaud's disease, two conditions that often overlap with lupus. The issue also includes strategies for learning how to balance work, home, and social life when you have lupus, answers to diet and nutrition questions for people with lupus, and ways to cope with changes in cognitive function, another complication of lupus. Lupus Now is published three times per year by the Lupus Foundation of America. For additional information about the magazine and about lupus, visit the LFA website at www.lupus.org.
Reduced mobility can result in overweight or obesity, because you are using fewer calories. Some medications, like steroids and antidepressants can also cause weight gain.
Being underweight and having poor nutrition can be caused by
– reduced mobility and feeling tired, which can make shopping, cooking and eating difficult
– difficulty getting food or drinks to the mouth
– poor appetite, and
– difficulty swallowing.
If you are having any of these symptoms and they are keeping you from eating, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
When you have MS, it is especially important to get the recommended amounts (the Dietary Reference Intakes, or DRIs) of the following vitamins and minerals. If your doctor has diagnosed that you are deficient in any of these, you may be advised to take more. Do not take amounts higher than what is recommended because this can be harmful.
– Calcium and vitamin D. People with MS have a higher risk of low bone mineral density and breaking bones. This may be due to low vitamin D and calcium in the diet, or other factors such reduced physical activity, such as walking. Good food sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese), fortified soy and rice beverages, fortified juices, tofu with added calcium and canned fish with the bones. Good food sources of vitamin D include milk, fortified soy and rice beverages, fortified juices, fatty fish, such as salmon, and eggs. If you do not eat these foods daily, you should discuss adding a daily supplement with your doctor or dietitian.
– Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people with MS. Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause a type of anemia that can make you feel tired. Good food sources of vitamin B12 are dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese), eggs, meat, fish, poultry, and fortified soy and rice beverages. It is recommended that people over 50 take a vitamin B12 supplement, because as you get older, you don't absorb the vitamin B12 from food very well. The amount of vitamin B12 in a multivitamin is usually enough.
– Zinc and selenium. Zinc and selenium deficiencies are common in people with MS. Zinc is needed for the growth and repair of body cells. Selenium works as an antioxidant to protect body cells from damage. Good food sources of zinc are meat, seafood, dried beans, peas, and lentils, and whole grains. Good food sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, seafood, fish and shellfish, liver and kidney. If these are foods that you don't eat regularly, you may need a supplement. The amounts in a multivitamin mineral supplement are usually enough.
Many people with MS try different herbal or nutritional supplements hoping these will improve their symptoms or prevent MS from getting worse. Ginkgo biloba has been studied in people with MS, and while early studies show some benefit, larger studies need to be done before it can be recommended. Gingko biloba has many side effects and shouldn't be taken by people who have bleeding disorders, who are taking blood thinning medication, or who are planning surgery.
Other supplements, including St. John's wort, ginseng, echinacea and valerian, have not been studied in people with MS, so it is not known if they are effective or safe. Because echinacea can stimulate the immune system, it might make MS symptoms worse.
Source: Dietitians of Canada. Reproduced with Permission.