Conditions, Interstitial Cystitis

The Problem with B Vitamin Supplements and Interstitial Cystitis

I have been mainly clear of bladder symptoms for over 3 years now. One of the few things that can still flare up interstitial cystitis symptoms for me are B vitamin complex supplements. These tend to cause a burning sensation and a slight loss of bladder muscle tone. There is a reason why B vitamin supplements can be a problem for IC sufferers, which I’d like to share with you today.





What’s in a B complex?

The exact composition may differ between manufacturers but generally a B complex vitamin will contain:

  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B12
  • Biotin
  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Why could a B complex be problematic for IC sufferers?

The potential reason why B vitamin supplements may be an issue is the same as why certain amino acids could be an issue – the B complex in general plays a role in increasing the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and acetylcholine.

High levels or increased metabolites of these neurotransmitters can potentially cause issues in IC sufferers such as spasms, cramping and burning.

Please read my last post to understand the exact mechanisms.

In particular, vitamin B5 goes into the neurotransmitter cycle and vitamin B3 can be produced from tryptophan.

For people with mast cell issues, vitamin B12 supplements could be an issue as they are often derived through a fermentation process (and fermentation results in histamine production, which may be problematic for someone with high mast cell levels).

The Benefits of B Vitamins

Despite the above, we need B vitamins and we probably need more of them when we are stressed and ill.

It is not a result of the B vitamin supplements that we can get problems with the bladder but rather the other way around.

The B complex plays an important role in energy production, among many other functions.

Vitamin B6 can actually help prevent the undesirable degradation of excreted tryptophan in urine and may therefore be one B vitamin supplement that could be helpful for IC sufferers.

However, as B vitamins work together as a complex, long-term supplementation of a single B vitamin is probably not a great idea.

How to get B Vitamins instead

Getting enough B vitamins daily to support energy levels is a good idea, especially for stressed individuals (stress uses up B vitamins). However, if you find (like me) that B vitamin supplements are an issue you may want to consider getting the B complex from other sources.

Here is what I do for B vitamins:

  • Consume foods rich in B vitamins: animal foods (most bioavailable), mushrooms, egg yolk, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood.
  • Royal Jelly (derived from bees, natural source of B complex)
  • Bee pollen (best from a local source, make sure they are tolerated)
  • Nutritional Yeast (natural, without added B12. Can be a common sensitivity, so watch out for adverse effects)

Do B complex supplements give you symptoms? Let me know in the comments!




Pin it for later:

Sources

GILLESPIE, L. (1993), Metabolic Appraisal of the Effects of Dietary Modification on Hypersensitive Bladder Symptoms. British Journal of Urology, 72: 293-297

Gillespie, Larrian You Don’t Have to Live With Cystitis (New York: Avon Health, 1996)

8 Comments

  • Reply

    Shannon

    April 16, 2018

    I don’t take B-vitamin supplements very often, mostly just in times of stress like you mentioned, but this honestly makes so much sense! My docs said I had was on the verge of being Vit B deficient, but when I’ve taken B-12 supplements in the past, it’s really screwed with me and my IC. Definitely going to share this and pin it for later reference. Thank you so much for the info!

  • Reply

    Nicola

    April 17, 2018

    Hi
    I didn’t think you could eat nuts and shellfish or mushroom when your on a low histimine diet?
    Thanks
    Nicoka

    • Reply

      Layla

      April 17, 2018

      You’re right, they may be a problem for some people. Good point!

  • Reply

    Tez

    April 27, 2018

    The last time I took vit B12 +complex (without B6), which was a few days ago, I had a bad flare up (severe burning pain in my bladder and rectum, and anal fissures). I used to take them every 2-3 days and had not noticed that they caused problem because I have pain-free days very rarely.

  • Reply

    Barbara Vitola

    May 1, 2018

    I have had IC for 20 years. I have never been able to take B-complex vitamins. Of course I found out the hard way and put two and two together. Every time I would take them I would suffer from a flare. Pressure in my bladder, constant urgency to urinate and burning. Once I stopped them, my symptoms would calm down. I am not able to take multiple vitamins.

  • Reply

    Sheeds

    May 28, 2018

    You’re, definitely on to something. The main reason why I googled about IC flares and B-complex because I’d noticed that shortly after taking it, I’d have problems urinating. My doctor thinks IC is my diagnosis after several rounds of antibiotics.

  • Reply

    Ruby Coleman

    October 2, 2018

    I had severa l b12 injections and after the last one I ended up in the emergency room the next morning in severe pain I thought it was acute diverticuloses which i had 2 yrs ago Instead a nightmare of pain and no diagnosis began. I saw a Urologist who diagnosed I C I do not eat meat dairy or eggs Question is could the b12 have sparked the IC ? I had just ordered a large quantity of the vitamin b12 they were formulated for energy and weight loss and instructions were give 1 one day and the other the next day alternating them I have not used it I need input here please I really appreciate it

    • Reply

      Layla

      October 4, 2018

      Hi Ruby,
      I couldn’t say for sure, sorry. Some B vitamins can ‘spark’ pain in the bladder because when their breakdown products aren’t metabolized properly they can trigger nerves in the bladder. If you did something new and then ended up with new symptoms, there is a chance that it could be related. However, the issue in my experience is not the vitamin per se, but that it may not be broken down properly in the gut (and this is would be a gut issue).

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