Vitamin E, Protein May Improve Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Impact on Pain & Quality of Life


A small Portuguese study published in August 2015 found links between protein intake and pain threshold in women with fibromyalgia. It also suggested that vitamin E may have an impact on quality of life. Additionally, researchers found that the fibromyalgia participants ate less food and lower quality food than healthy women in the control group.

Pain & Protein

Researchers say that the percentage of protein in the diet had a positive relationship with pain threshold, meaning that subjects who ate more protein had higher pain thresholds.

The pain threshold is the point at which sensation becomes painful, and a low threshold is associated with fibromyalgia. That's why light pressure or moderate temperature can bother us when they're not a problem for other people.

(Pain threshold should not be confused with pain tolerance, which is the amount of pain you can withstand before breaking down physically and mentally.)

Quality of Life & Vitamin E

According to researchers, the women with fibromyalgia who ate less vitamin E had higher scores on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, which is a standard research measurement tool for assessing the severity of the illness. A higher score indicates that the condition has a more significant impact on your quality of life.

The abstract doesn't address why this could be. Other research, however, suggests that vitamin E's antioxidant action may benefit people with fibromyalgia.

Less Food, Lower Quality Food

The study also found that the fibromyalgia participants ate fewer calories than healthy controls as well as lower quality food.

Again, the "why" wasn't addressed. However, in my own experience, having fibromyalgia can certainly cause me to seek out convenience food instead of cooking healthier meals. Illness-related loss of income may also be a barrier to a better diet.

When it comes to eating less overall, it could be that a more sedentary lifestyle requires fewer calories or that the participants were simply too fatigued or in too much pain to get themselves food regularly.

Economics could play a role here, as well.

What's the Take-Away?

So what should we take away from this study? It's small and needs corroboration before we can say for sure that it's accurate. However, because protein and vitamin E are -- at appropriate levels -- good for you, it might be worth increasing them (one at a time) to see if they make you feel better.

Also, it's a good reminder that we might not eat as well as we should. It's a challenge, to be sure, but it may be worth making an effort to keep healthier foods in the house.

Learn more:


Altindag O, Celik H. Redox report: communications in free radical research. 2006;11(3):131-5. Total antioxidant capacity and the severity of the pain in patients with fibromyalgia.

Batista ED, et al. Revista brasileira de reumatologia. 2015 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print.] Food intake assessment and quality of life in women with fibromyalgia.

Naziroglu M, et al. Stress. 2010 Nov;13(6):498-505. Vitamins C and E treatment combined with exercise modulates oxidative stress markers in blood of patients with fibromyalgia: a controlled clinical pilot study.

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