Most patients in pain respond best to a personalized treatment plan that includes not only interventional techniques but also vitamins and supplements for pain symptom management and relief. Here are some of the most common supplements for pain (and how they can help you!).
How can vitamins and supplements for pain help?
General research points to a simple finding: personalized diet and supplements for pain plans can have a profound effect on a pain patient’s quality of life. Exercise and nutritional counseling provide good support for patients as they move through treatment. These tools can help manage the daily stress of pain, often without the threat of drug interactions or dangerous side effects.
The most common type of chronic pain—musculoskeletal—can benefit from a variety of supplements for pain. And while drug interactions for prescription drugs are a danger, in some cases, taking multiple supplements for pain actually increases their effectiveness.
There are individual studies for a variety of supplements for pain that we’ll cover later in this post.
Common supplements for pain
Common vitamins and supplements for pain can help regulate how your body functions, its inflammatory response, and the way your brain responds to pain.
The most promising group of supplements for pain begins with the B vitamins. B vitamins are coenzymes that help with energy production throughout your body. They are important factors in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
This group of vitamins includes:
- Vitamin B6
- Folic acid
These vitamins are essential for normal nervous system function. They also help with feelings of stress and lethargy. B-vitamins also promote healthy relaxation and increased energy levels. The B vitamins are usually best taken together but you can take them individually for certain deficiencies.
Let’s look at each of these.
Thiamine plays a part in carbohydrate metabolism and proper nerve functioning. These supplements can increase energy levels and may play a role in memory formation.
Thiamine deficiency is commonly seen in people with nutritional deficiencies. Symptoms of deficiency include generalized muscle weakness and confusion. For fibromyalgia patients with these symptoms, thiamine may help.
Riboflavin is important for your body’s production of energy. Taking supplements is associated with increased energy levels, improved concentration, and mood stability.
Riboflavin also helps to recover from muscle pain and soreness.
Niacin is essential for many processes throughout the body. It lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as improves blood circulation. A niacin deficiency can produce a syndrome termed “pellagra” which manifests as a skin rash, dementia, and diarrhea.
Recent studies have shown that niacin not only plays a role in managing inflammation but also is protective against certain neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease).
Commonly used in the treatment of depression, vitamin B6 breaks down in the body, first to tryptophan and then serotonin. Tryptophan naturally occurs in many foods (most famously turkey).
A severe deficiency or an excess of B6 can cause irreversible nerve damage with symptoms that include numbness of feet and hands, unsteady gait, and impaired reflexes. Supplementation of B6 has led to significant improvement in symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, including many of those caused by deficiencies.
You’ve likely heard of this supplement and how it prevents neural tube birth defects. It acts as a component in DNA synthesis and nervous system maintenance. Folic acid supplementation may also decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, this supplement may be one of the few that helps speed peripheral nerve injury repair. It is important to take appropriate doses, as too much may actually hinder the body’s use of folate.
Vitamin B12 is important for the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. It can improve memory, concentration, and energy and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
B12 also appears to aid in the regeneration of damaged nerves and may help enhance the effects of other pain medications.
Vitamin K is involved in both blood clotting and bone metabolism. Some blood-thinning agents (coumadin) are used to block the effects of vitamin K on normal coagulation.
There are many studies that suggest that vitamin K is especially effective at managing chronic aging diseases like inflammation, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease, but more studies are needed.
Vitamin A plays a part in healthy vision, skin health (used for cosmetic purposes), and acne treatment. It also works with the immune system to prevent infection.
This vitamin is also used as an anti-aging and anti-cancer supplement.
Vitamin D is essential for the body to effectively absorb dietary calcium in the bones. This supplement may prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone strength. It also has a role in treating the skin disorder psoriasis.
As a supplement for pain, vitamin D works to reduce pain-causing inflammation in the body. It also supports the immune system for overall good health and defends against bacteria and infection in the respiratory tract.
Vitamin E is one of the body’s strongest antioxidants. It protects cell membranes from damage produced by free radicals. It has also been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease and may reduce the risk of heart attack.
The antioxidant effects of vitamin E may help improve the immune system, assist in wound healing, and may reduce the risk of cancer.
Calcium is essential in the formation and maintenance of your bones. It’s also involved in blood clotting, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction.
A deficiency of calcium (and magnesium) in women with fibromyalgia suggests that supplementation could help decrease symptoms.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant useful in treating infections, improving immunity, and improving wound healing by increasing collagen formation. It may also protect against the effects of stress and help to prevent cancer.
Flaxseed oil is rich in linolenic acid, which is frequently deficient in our diets. These essential fatty acids are important because they maintain cell wall and membrane integrity. They also may increase energy production and help regulate the consumption of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Flaxseed oil has lignans within the flaxseed. These compounds are anti-inflammatory and could reduce related pain and other inflammatory conditions (e.g., eczema and psoriasis). Flaxseed oil may also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, decreasing the risk of stroke and heart attack and may also reduce the risk of cancer.
Learn more about our integrative approach
At Arizona Pain, we practice a balanced approach to pain management. We believe that every patient is unique and has unique needs. We believe in comprehensive pain management and strive to combine cutting-edge interventions with alternative therapies that work.