As the list of side effects on pain medications and other drugs aimed at combatting muscle and joint pain grows, more and more men and women are looking for gentler alternatives.
One such natural alternative to help alleviate joint pain is taking B-complex vitamins, or choosing more foods that contain these vitamins.
The biggest question, then, that many people have is whether or not taking B vitamins can have a positive effect on muscle and joint pain.
To help you sort out fact from fiction, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the possible connection between B vitamins and joint pain, and tried to answer them as clearly and concisely as possible.
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What Are B Vitamins?
The term “B-complex vitamins” refers to a family of water-soluble vitamins that includes vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin, and folic acid.
Each of these vitamins performs a unique function within the human body, ranging from metabolism to energy production to cell division (University of Michigan).
You may recognize some of the B vitamins by the following names: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5). Biotin may be referred to as B7.
Water-soluble vitamins include all of the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C.
These types of vitamins, with the exception of vitamin B12, are not stored by the human body for long periods of time (Arthritis Research UK).
This means that they need to be ingested on a regular basis, whether from food sources or supplements.
Otherwise, you may see signs of a vitamin deficiency, which may include increased muscle or joint pain.
Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are stored by the body and therefore generally do not need to be taken daily.
Examples of this type of vitamin include A, E, D, and K (Colorado State University).
It is important to note, however, that these vitamins still play a vital role in our overall health and bodily functioning, and deficiencies in these vitamins can occur, although less frequently than water-soluble vitamins.
What Are Some of the Signs of a Vitamin B Deficiency?
Although vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver for up to four years, this is one of the most common B-complex vitamin deficiencies, especially among vegetarians and vegans.
This is because meat, dairy, and egg products are the most abundant food sources of this vitamin.
If you are deficient in vitamin B12, you may exhibit symptoms such as:
- Constant fatigue, even if you’ve gotten enough sleep
- Muscle weakness
- Tingling sensations in your hands, fingers, toes, and feet
- Forgetfulness or loss of memory
- Loss of balance and/or dizziness
- Pale skin
For some people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and other causes of joint pain, a vitamin B12 deficiency could be partially to blame for symptom flare-ups.
This is because vitamin B12 is necessary for proper immune cell function and response (Progressive Health).
Other signs of B-complex deficiencies can include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Severely dry, cracked skin
- Yellowed skin (jaundice)
- Irritability and other mood disorders
Is There Any Evidence That B Vitamins Can Help with Joint Pain?
Although more research is needed to determine the relationship between B-complex vitamins and signs of joint pain, there is some evidence that by treating a vitamin B12 deficiency, signs of muscle and joint pain may be reduced.
Studies have shown that a specific naturally-occurring amino acid called homocysteine is elevated in those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin B12 may help to reduce the levels of homocysteine, which could help to better manage symptoms (Arthritis Foundation).
Additionally, many common drugs prescribed to rheumatoid arthritis patients can hinder the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food sources, which could lead to a deficiency of this important vitamin (Arthritis Foundation).
Other research has found that vitamins B and E could offer significant relief from knee pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis, whether used on their own or in conjunction with other osteoarthritis treatment methods (Medical Archives).
What Are the Best Food Sources of B Vitamins?
If you feel that you may be able to benefit from adding more B-complex vitamins to your diet, you have two options: 1) talk to your doctor about adding a supplement or two to your regular routine and 2) eating more foods that contain these vitamins.
If you’d like to get B vitamins from food sources, you’ll want to pile more of these foods on your plate:
- Meat, dairy, and eggs (rich in vitamin B12)
- Beans, fish, spinach, kale, oranges, and papayas (rich in vitamin B6)
- Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (rich in folate)
- Liver and eggs (rich in biotin)
- Salmon, legumes, peanuts, and fortified cereals (rich in vitamin B3)
- Pork, spinach, wheat germ, almonds, pecans, and green peas (rich in vitamin B1)
If you’re finding it difficult to consume enough of these foods that are rich in B-complex vitamins, you may want to discuss with your doctor adding a supplement or two to your daily diet.
This is especially important if you do not eat meat or dairy products, as many of the B-complex vitamins are present in high concentrations in those food groups.
What Else Can Be Done to Alleviate Joint Pain and Stiffness?
Taking a closer look at your daily diet is a great place to start if you want to take a more holistic approach to alleviating muscle and joint pain, rather than relying on medications with lots of scary side effects.
Once you’ve upped your intake of the right vitamins and minerals, you might also want to look for a gentle topical product that contains many of the same essential micronutrients needed in your diet for proper joint health and function.
Enduras Recovery Cream contains naturally-derived essential micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E available in a lightweight, non-steroidal topical formulation.
Many men and women have already tried Enduras and found that, unlike the multitudes of other drugs and products out there, Enduras actually works — and works quickly.
If you’re looking to steer clear of steroid injections, daily NSAIDs and other pain-relieving medications that can have lasting adverse effects on your health, combining Enduras with strategic dietary and lifestyle adjustments could be an effective alternative to help calm and soothe muscle and joint pain, stiffness, and tingling.
Just some of the lifestyle adjustments that may help to calm signs of muscle and joint pain include:
- Staying active
- Performing low-impact exercises and stretches
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Get enough good-quality sleep each night
- Try hot and cold therapy
As with any health trend or popular internet discussion, it’s best to gather all the facts you can about the potential connection between B-complex vitamins and your joint health. In a nutshell, there is some evidence that suggests a deficiency in certain B vitamins could contribute to your symptoms of joint pain and stiffness. However, more research is still needed to determine the exact reasons why this may be the case.
About the Authors
William Goolsbee has spent his career in Life Sciences including leading roles in drug development in immunology and genetic medicine. Recent senior positions include Chairman of the Board at Sarepta Therapeutics and Founder and CEO at Metrodora Therapeutics.
Dr. Gil Price
Gil Price M.D. is the Chief Medical Officer at the Propharma Group, where he provides medical supervision for all clinical trials. He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of Drug Safety Solutions, where he oversaw safety monitoring for drugs in clinical development. Dr. Price also served as the Director of Clinical Development at Medimmune Oncology and Director of Medical Affairs at Glaxo.