Vitamins, Minerals, & IC
The best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs is by eating a varied diet. Whole foods are a better source of these nutrients than nutritional supplements. For example, if citrus products make your flare, try broccoli, green peppers and potatoes. All of these foods are good sources of vitamin C!
Studies have found that there are links between vitamin D levels and chronic pain. Vitamin D supplementation is also important to boost the innate immune response.
Of interest to interstitial cystitis (IC) patients is the finding that there are significantly lower vitamin D levels in women with at least one pelvic floor disorder and for women with urinary incontinence, regardless of age. Analysis of data in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that women with higher levels of vitamin D had lower risk of pelvic floor disorders. This finding was true for all women from age 20 up. In a subset of women age 50 and older, the risk of urinary incontinence was reduced when blood levels of vitamin D were 30 ng/mL or higher.
- This is the reference for the article published in the medical literature: Badalian SS, Rosenbaum PF. “Vitamin D and pelvic floor disorders in women: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Apr;115(4):795-803.
There is not a lot of research about interactions with vitamins or minerals and IC symptoms. However, some IC patients indicate that they are sensitive to certain vitamins and minerals:
- For some patients, vitamin C can cause IC flares. Ester-C, a pH-balanced (acid-neutralized) version of C, may be an alternative option if needed. It was originally developed for people with stomach problems. So if you want to try it, start out with small doses. Some IC patients are so sensitive that they cannot tolerate Ester-C.
- The B-Complex vitamins, for reasons not clearly understood, can also worsen IC symptoms. IC patients may want to try taking B vitamins individually, instead of a B-complex formula.
- Feedback from patients also suggests that the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) often do not pose problems. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium are also usually well tolerated by most IC patients.
Bottom line: Eat whole foods as much as possible—having problems with vitamin supplements such as C or B's does not mean you cannot eat foods that contain these nutrients. Read more about IC and vitamins and minerals:
Revised April 11, 2011