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ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a progressive motor neuron disease and a ALS 4 Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition caasndevastating neurodegenerative disorder. It is the disease for which “ice bucket challenge” went viral worldwide to increase public awareness in 2014. For this reason, I call it "Ice Bucket Challenge Disease". 

The exact cause is unknown. However, there are few risk factors. Approximately 20% of cases are familial and 80% of cases are sporadic. In people with familial ALS, there are mutations in the genes encoding Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). SOD is a manganese-zinc-copper containing enzyme and one of the naturally found antioxidants in the body. Along with catalase and glutathione peroxidase, it is the first line of defence of the body against damages caused by free radicals.

According to Harrison`s Principles of Internal Medicine, edition 18th (the most valid reference textbook in medicine), nutritional deficiencies of copper, manganese, zinc, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin E may increase the risk of developing sporadic forms of ALS. Based on this medical textbook, another etiologic factor is toxicity with heavy metals, especially lead and aluminium.

Supplementing with SODvitamin B9vitamin B12vitamin Ezinccopper, and manganese may reduce the risk of developing motor neuron disease. Chelation and detoxification of heavy metals in people with Ice Bucket Challenge Disease would certainly be helpful. Vegetables high in chlorophyll particularly spirulina, parsley, and coriander are beneficial in chelating the heavy metals.

Also studies indicate that the two commonly used sports supplements Glutamine and BCAAs (branched – chain amino acids) may increase the risk of ALS or aggravate the symptoms by increasing the excitability of the nerve cells. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that people with ALS (Ice Bucket Challenge Disease) or family history of ALS avoid taking these two sports supplements.

Abazar Habibinia, MD, DFN, CSDTT

Director of the Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition

Updated on November 11, 2018