Defeating Pain

One Person's Battle Against Chronic Pain

Vitamins, A Little Known Key to Fighting Pain

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Recently I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in my leg. It is not the happiest of diagnoses, but on the bright side now I know I wasn’t imagining all that crazy leg pain, and now knowing what it is, arms me with new weapons for fighting this “named demon.”

One thing my neurologist told me, in discussing my complete body eval we did to find out what was wrong, was that vitamins and vitamin deficiency can be a reason for neurological pain.  There has been a lot of studies into how vitamins interact with our nervous system and body overall, and there are definitely vitamins you can increase in your diet that can help to combat certain types of pain. I was recently found to have low vitamin B’s and D’s with my blood tests they did in all the tests, so we have started to try to elevate those levels and other things in my diet to see if this helps with pain, swelling and muscle spasms. Also, since I get a lot of cortisone shots, calcium is very important as well. But having all of your vitamins, and hormones, and thyroid chemicals at all the right levels, is all extremely important in making sure you are doing everything you can to fight and reduce your pain.

First how to best get your vitamins, sure you could buy supplements and vitamins at the store, but since they are usually not as easy to absorb and can contain extra stuff you don’t need they are not always the best way. And most of the time you are literally pissing your money away. Don’t get me wrong, I am currently taking a prescribed vitamin to get my D levels up to where they need to be, but I need to start increasing it in my diet to maintain that since it will only be a short run of dosage.

Less of these!

 

More of these!

Most multivitamins are too broad spectrum, and won’t be absorbed by your body as well as if you just made sure you get those vitamins in your diet. The best way to get your vitamins, is to educate yourself on what vitamins are in what foods, and to eat the foods that contain the vitamins you need. Your body will absorb everything better, and it will force you to eat more fresh and less processed foods. Which is extremely important as those extra chemicals, harmless though they seem, in highly processed foods can cause crazy amounts of havoc with your body. So remember eat fresh, and home-made when you can and…

See even Godzilla loves broccoli!

So lets get started with an overview of those vitamins that work the best to support nerve health, and ones that can cause pain or other issues if you are deficient in them.

Vitamin C:  W.H.O. says 45 milligrams per day 300 milligrams per week for adults.

Vitamin C Food Sources:

The usual lime, lemon, orange, tangerine suspects but also – Rose hips, Broccoli, Elderberry, Currants (red and black) Brussel Sprouts, Wolfberry (Goji), Lychee, Chili Peppers (that does include bell!), Guava, Papaya, Strawberry, Pineapple, Cauliflower, Kale, Melons, Garlic, Grapefruit, Raspberries, Tomatoes, Green Cabbage, Mangoes, Blueberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Plum, Apricot, Avocado, Pear, Cucumber, Fig, Cilantro, Thyme, Parsley, Dill, Beef Liver, Oysters, Chicken Liver, Goat and Cow milk. (there are more see full list of plants here, herbs here, and animals here)

Why You Should Take It

In cases of people with CRPS (which is a painful nerve disorder that usually follows an injury) taking C during their healing or starting a regimen during the early onset helps to reduce CRPS or possibly even prevent it from occurring. Personally I have just started a vitamin C regimen so I can not say one way or another if it helps post-onset, but vitamin C also helps keep me healthy since the cortisone injections I receive decimate my immune system, and this is one way I bolster it up. Vitamin C, if you are going through any sort of cortisone injections, should be your closest friend. 🙂

How To Put It In Your Diet

Vitamin B12: US FDA recommended daily intake is 2 to 3 micrograms per day.

B12 Food Sources:

Bananas, Apples, Beans, Asparagus, Beets, Artichokes, Apricots, Bamboo shoots. Barley, Beef, Turkey, Broccoli, Collard Greens, Couscous, Bulgur, Cheeses, Sardines, Mussels, Salmon, Halibut, Scallops, Cod, Milk (Goat & Cow), some Nuts, Liver, Pacific Oysters, Onions, Plantains, Clams (raw), Egg, Alaskan King Crab, Yogurt, Peaches, and Beer! (For a full list go here or here)

Why You Should Take It

Vitamin B12 deficiency has a lot of dangers, it can cause lasting damage if it dips even only slightly below the normal range. Symptoms of B12 deficiency are fatigue, depression and poor memory. It can also cause nerve issues such as numbness and tingling in your hands and feet if your levels dip below the normal range. B12 is vital for the brain, nervous system, DNA synthesis and blood formation. There are many processed foods, which we sometimes can not avoid that have added B12, since this is not able to be made by anything but bacteria and archaea. But that also means ALL fermented foods are good sources of B12! Hooray for Kimchi! Hooray for Sauerkraut! Hooray Beer!

How To Put It In Your Diet

Vitamin B6: about 1-2 micrograms per day

B6 Food Sources:

Chili Peppers(fresh and dried/powder), Bran, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat, Garlic, Tarragon, Sage, Spearmint, Basil, Chives, Savory, Turmeric, Bay Leaves, Dill, Onion, Oregano, Marjoram, Pistachios, Liver, Tuna, Salmon (Wild), Cod, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds (yes that means Tahini, therefore Hummus is deliciously good for you), Molasses, Hazelnuts, Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), Bananas, Potatoes, Oatmeal, Walnuts, Lima Beans and Watermelon. (for a more complete list go here)

Why You Should Take It

When you lack vitamin B6 it has a large effect on your body and your nerves. B6 is part of neurotransmitter synthesis and plays a role in hemoglobin creation and function, and even helps with histamines formation. While slight deficiency is common, large amounts of depletion is usually a rare occurrence unless you suffering from specific diseases (usually of the liver or kidneys), or are receiving regular anticonvulsants or corticosteroids – which if you are a chronic pain sufferer you need to be mindful of your B6 levels. There can be dermatological and neurological issues with deficiency in B6 such as issues with peripheral nerves, skin (ulcers may appear), mucous membranes, and your circulatory system.

How To Put It In Your Diet

Vitamin D: 15-20 micrograms a day

D Sources: 

This is something you don’t have to eat, you can make this yourself! Vitamin D is synthesized by the body when exposed to sunlight, 15 minutes of sunlight a day minimum is what everyone should have. Food is another way to get vitamin D, things like Mushrooms, Milk & Milk Products, Lichen, Fish Oils, Catfish (wild), Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Tuna, Eel, Egg and Beef Liver.

ProTip: If you are lactose intolerant, and/or pale you need to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. Wearing sunscreen will prevent D formation.

Why You Should Take It

Ever heard of Rickets? Lack of vitamin D in extreme cases causes Rickets which can cause deformation of long bones and lead to difficulty walking pre-puberty. Osteomalacia is the older person version of Rickets, and also includes softening of the bone, bending and other not good bone things you really don’t want happening. Vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, decrease in ability to make antibodies, cognitive impairment, and increase your risk for cancer. It can also lead to depression (ever hear of SAD), and lack of D can prevent the bodies inflammatory response to injury. It will cause muscle aches, weakness, even twitching. D is vital to many bodily functions and a happy mind, so it is very important to make sure vitamin D features in your diet as often as possible.

*giggles like a 5th grader* the D

How To Put It In Your Diet

Vitamin E: 15 mg per day for adults.

Vitamin E Food Sources:

Wheat Germ, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Palm Oil, Purslane, Spinach, Turnip, Beet Greens, Dandelion Greens, Avocados, Kiwi, Pumpkin, Broccoli, Mangoes, Tomatoes, Rockfish, Papaya, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Bell Peppers, and Lettuce (for a complete list see here and here)

Why You Should Take It

Lack of vitamin E can cause issues with your brain and central nervous system, as well as your vision, immune system response, and recycling of red blood cells. Pain and tingling in the extremities has been associated with vitamin E deficiency. It also helps support healthy skin and hair. Applied to scars from surgery it can help scars in healing to be less visible once healed up.

How To Put It In Your Diet

Magnesium: 300-450 mg a day for adults.

Magnesium Food Sources:

Green vegetables! Spinach, Kale, etc. Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Dark Chocolate, Soybeans, Bran, Peanuts, Black Beans, Avocado, Potato (skin), Brown Rice, Yogurt, Kidney Beans, Broccoli, Apples, Carrots, “hard” water, and Magnesium water that you can use as a skin spray or in lotion. (for a full list of foods go here)

Why You Should Take It

Magnesium is a metal that occurs naturally, but it is also a necessary element for bone, muscle and nerve health. Low magnesium levels can cause muscle spasms, migraines, anxiety, high blood pressure, cerebral infarction, insomnia and can increase pain in people that have Fibromyalgia or other neurological disorders. If you have low magnesium it can have a direct effect on muscle relaxation since it interferes with calcium uptake in cells. Depression is also a sign of low magnesium, and with any chronic pain disorder, keeping an eye on your mental health is key, and every little bit helps.

How To Put It In Your Diet

Calcium: no more than 600 mg a day.

Calcium Food Sources:

Milk (and Milk Substitutes), Mozzarella, Yogurt, Sardines, Cottage Cheese, Tofu, Turnip Greens, Kale, Bok Choi, Broccoli, Sesame Seeds, Scallops, Spinach, Collard Greens,Fennel, Cumin, Leeks and most Milk products. (for a full list go here)

Why You Should Take It

Calcium is not only integral to bone health but also to normal cell functioning. Helps keep your blood alkaline balance where it should be, and can help with PMS, leg cramps and other leg pains. We all know how important it is to have enough calcium, and with a lot of pain management treatments cortisone is frequently injected and this can cause early onset of osteoporosis so it is extremely important to make sure if you are receiving these to watch your calcium levels and to make sure to take a supplement.

How To Put It In Your Diet

  • Anything and everything Milk! If there is milk in it, calcium is a go. Cheese, yogurt, and everything else made of milk counts.
  • Steamed Broccoli, is broccoli ever bad?

Additional Supplements you should look into:

  • Lecithin – mentioned in the Kava post, this is a vital supplement that is good for nerves, cardiovascular system, liver, overall cell function, healthy hair and skin. Think of it like motor oil for your nerves.
  • GLA – Gamma Linolenic Acid found in borage and evening primrose oil is good for skin conditions and for other joint pain related issues. It helps with depression and with other sorts of nerve pain.

Remember this is not medical advice but you should talk to your doctor and see if blood tests may help you pinpoint some un-noticed issues that could be causing additional pain.

Always remember as well that too much of a good thing becomes bad, it is possible to overdose on some vitamins so please be mindful of how much you are taking and its interactions, always check WebMD for interactions! And if ever in doubt, ask a professional!

Author: defeatingpain

I am a Texan and in 2008 I was struck by an SUV while riding my bicycle, I have had C5-C6 and L4-S1 fused. While the surgery did a lot, I was left with Failed Back Syndrome and CRPS. I refuse to sit by and not have a hand in my own recovery, so, this blog documents my trials with finding natural solutions for chronic pain.

One thought on “Vitamins, A Little Known Key to Fighting Pain

  1. Pingback: Natural Remedies For Your Chronic Pain

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