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Effectiveness of Dietary Supplements in Spinal Cord Injury Subjects.

Navarrete-Opazo A; Cuitino P; Salas I.
Disability & Health Journal. 10(2):183-197

BACKGROUND: Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) consume more dietary supplements than the general population. However, there is limited information regarding the clinical effectiveness of dietary supplements in SCI population. OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the effectiveness of dietary supplements for the prevention or treatment of health-related conditions associated with SCI. METHODS: Randomized or non-randomized controlled clinical trials were selected, comparing the effect of any dose and form of a dietary supplement (defined by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act), with either no treatment, placebo, or other medication. Data Sources included the Cochrane Database, DARE, LILACS, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, OTSeeker, PEDro, PsycINFO, SpeechBITE, ScienceDirect, Scopus,, Google Scholar, and OpenGrey. Two reviewers independently classified articles from January 1970 through October 2015, and 18 articles were selected. RESULTS: Due to the heterogeneity of outcome measures across studies, a meta-analysis was not conducted. However, high-quality evidence showed that cranberry supplementation is not effective for prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in SCI. Moderate-quality evidence supported a beneficial effect of vitamin D, alpha-lipoic acid, and omega-3 supplementation, although replication of results is needed. There were conflicting results for the effect of creatine supplementation on improvement of motor outcomes. Low-quality evidence does not permit assessment of the effectiveness of melatonin, whey protein, vitamin C, and Chinese herb in SCI. CONCLUSIONS: There is sufficient data suggesting that cranberry supplementation is ineffective for prevention of UTIs in individuals with SCI. There is insufficient data to support or refute the use of any other dietary supplement in individuals with SCI.