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:


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)


  • Reply


    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


    April 17, 2018

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

    • Reply


      April 17, 2018

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

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