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Nutraceuticals and dietary supplements in DMD

A photo of various Probiotics, pills, and dietary supplements
Green infographic saying "When deciding to use additional supplements, it is important to fully research the evidence available and talk to a specialist dietician (where possible) to ensure you are aware of any risks."

There have been a range of nutritional supplements investigated in boys with DMD. The most promising supplement is creatine monohydrate. A systematic literature review (considered the highest level of evidence) demonstrated that creatine supplementation had some short to medium term benefits with regard to strength and muscle mass in Muscular Dystrophy (Davidson et. al., 2015).

This review included data from five clinical trials conducted in ambulatory boys with DMD. However, there is a lack of long term evidence for creatine in DMD, and no data that describes how it affects adults with DMD.

Some other supplements that have been investigated in clinical trials for boys with DMD include: glutamine, Coenzyme Q10, fish oil, leucine and carnitine (Davoodi et. al.2012; Davidson et. al., 2015). There has not been strong evidence of an effect with these supplements nor is there any data for these supplements in adult populations.

There have been many supplements investigated in the DMD mouse model. Whilst there have been some interesting results in these studies, these findings do not always translate directly into humans. Caution is recommended when interpreting results from these studies.

Don’t believe everything you read

There are a wide range of unsubstantiated claims regarding specific nutrients and diets to treat many different conditions, including Duchenne. Claims have become increasingly sophisticated, often being promoted by medical professionals and linking to articles in journals. However, often these journals have no quality control or peer review process and those medical professionals may earn money from products they recommend.

Some supplements offer promise but haven’t yet been subject to clinical trials to prove if they work. However, some supplements or specific diets have been studied and have not been found to work.

In researching suggested diets and supplements, it is important to identify the evidence base supporting their use (publications, clinical data, human trials, animal studies) and whether these are from a reputable source (e.g. a recognised specialist DMD clinic or peer-reviewed journal). Take care not to believe everything you read.

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