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Complementary Medicine

How Useful is Vitamin B for Treating Irritable Bowel Disorder?

12/05/2003

Question:

I have just started taking a vitamin B complex. It was recommended to me because I have Irritable Bowel Disorder and also aches in muscles and joints (flu-like) that have lasted for some time. What can I expect to see as a result of the vitamin, and is there anything I should know about taking them?

Answer:

I often recommend B-Complex to my patients. The B vitamins are water soluble, and therefore not stored in your body like fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are. B vitamins are extremely important as co-factors in metabolism. They can be "used up" if the body is stressed emotionally or physically (as in illness). Having IBD is a major stress to the body, and may also be accompanied by a decreased absorption of B vitamins. Early signs of deficiency of most of the B`s are fatigue and depression. Some (B12 and Niacin) are associated with diarrhea if there is a deficiency. You may expect to see an increase in energy and stamina over a period of time with continued use. For muscle aches and joint pain, I would also recommend Flaxseed oil supplementation (freshly ground or capsules) which must be refrigerated. Flax is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are natural anti-inflammatories. It may also lower the cholesterol. Magnesium has been shown to be very helpful in muscle aches, chronic pain, and sleep problems. It may lower the blood pressure a bit as well.

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Response by:

Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd
Formerly, Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University