Background: Many chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) patients (35-68%) use nutritional supplements, while it is unclear whether deficiencies in vitamins and minerals contribute to symptoms in these patients. Objectives were (1) to determine vitamin and mineral status in CFS and FMS patients as compared to healthy controls; (2) to investigate the association between vitamin and mineral status and clinical parameters, including symptom severity and quality of life; and (3) to determine the effect of supplementation on clinical parameters.
Methods: The databases PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Knowledge, and PsycINFO were searched for eligible studies. Articles published from January 1st 1994 for CFS patients and 1990 for FMS patients till March 1st 2017 were included. Articles were included if the status of one or more vitamins or minerals were reported, or an intervention concerning vitamins or minerals was performed. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the risk of bias.
Results: A total of 5 RCTs and 40 observational studies were included in the qualitative synthesis, of which 27 studies were included in the meta-analyses. Circulating concentrations of vitamin E were lower in patients compared to controls (pooled standardized mean difference (SMD): -1.57, 95%CI: -3.09, -0.05; p = .042). However, this difference was not present when restricting the analyses to the subgroup of studies with high quality scores. Poor study quality and a substantial heterogeneity in most studies was found. No vitamins or minerals have been repeatedly or consistently linked to clinical parameters. In addition, RCTs testing supplements containing these vitamins and/or minerals did not result in clinical improvements.
Discussion: Little evidence was found to support the hypothesis that vitamin and mineral deficiencies play a role in the pathophysiology of CFS and FMS, and that the use of supplements is effective in these patients.
Registration: Study methods were documented in an international prospective register of systematic reviews (PROSPERO) protocol, registration number: http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.asp?ID=CRD42015032528.