Muscle pain (also referred to as muscles ache or myalgia) is a condition that will most likely be experienced by every person at some point during their lives, whether highly active or sedentary. Since almost every part of the body has muscle tissue, this particular type of pain can arise practically everywhere, affecting one or several small muscles at a time. The most common causes of muscle pain include muscle tension in one or more areas of the body, overuse during strenuous physical routines, or injury caused by exercising or improper work conditions.
Sometimes, muscle pain has nothing to do with the stress and tension we submit our muscles to, but is directly influenced by medical conditions such as lupus, fibromyalgia, infections, dermatomyositis, and use of certain medications. And other times, muscle pain is directly caused by one unexpected cause: vitamin deficiencies.
The Link Between Vitamin Deficiency and Muscle Pain
- Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a cofactor for enzymes involved in releasing energy from carbohydrates. Since there are no stores of this vitamin in the body, deficiency can occur within two weeks of a poor intake, especially if excessive drinking and vomiting are present. Most common causes of thiamine deficiency include excessive intake of carbs, chronic alcohol excess, malnutrition, persistent vomiting, AIDs, drug misuse, and genetic variations in thiamine metabolism.
One of the first symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency is a rise in lactic acid and a decline in the activity of the enzyme transketolase, which is essential in carbohydrate metabolism. As a result, patients will immediately notice muscle pain, particularly in the calves as a consequence of lactic acid accumulation following physical activity. Other symptoms include congestive cardiac failure, peripheral neuropathy, hypothermia, loss of memory, ataxia.
Get it from: Thiamine is found in most foods in small amounts. Larger amounts can be taken from pork and organ meats, as well as whole-grain cereals, rice, wheat germ, molasses.
- Vitamin B-12: The most important role of vitamin B-12 is in the proper formation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and conduction of nerve impulses. When you lack this vitamin whether because you suffer from a health disorder such as atrophic gastritis, pernicious anemia, celiac disease, or lupus, or because you are a vegan, you will likely experience the following mild to severe symptoms (although they aren’t always visible):
- General muscle weakness
- Difficulty walking
- Tingling and numbness in the legs
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Weight loss
Get it from: Vitamin B-12 is naturally found in animal products, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy. It’s generally not found in plants and legumes, and this is the reason many vegetarians suffer from this deficiency.
- Vitamin C: By far, the most important role of vitamin C is the stimulation of the immune system, essential in the defense against infections. It has histamine-inhibiting properties, important in allergic reactions, and also powerful antioxidant properties, essential in neutralizing the harmful activity of free radicals, pollutants, and toxins.
It also has roles in:
- The production of collagen, peptide hormones, and neurotransmitters
- Protein metabolism
- The absorption of certain minerals from the diet
- The regeneration of other antioxidants
- The health of teeth
- The delay the development of age-related macular degeneration and eyesight loss
Because vitamin C is involved in the synthesis of collagen – the intercellular “cement” substance that gives muscles, tendons, ligaments, and tissues their structure, a lack in vitamin C causes various tissues to break down and may also slow down recovery of pain and wounds. Most common symptoms include tiredness, muscle and joint pain, easy bruising, dry skin, higher rate of infections, tooth loss, bleeding into joints, gum swelling and discoloration.
Get it from: Unlike other animals that can produce this substance internally, humans have to get it from food. Between 75 and 90 milligrams is the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C for adults over 18, and it can be found mainly in fruits and legumes such as oranges, kiwis, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers.
- Vitamin D: By far the most important role of vitamin is to regulate calcium in the body, thus ensuring and maintaining the health and strength of bones and teeth. It also has a role in healthy muscle movement, immune function, and inflammation reduction. It is estimated that over 60 percent of the adult population over 60 years of age suffers from vitamin D insufficiency, mostly due to insufficient sun exposure and inadequate dietary intake. This may cause:
- Muscle weakness
- Bone pain
- Bone-deforming condition known as “rickets” occurring most often in children
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
Get it from: Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, and this is the reason so many people suffer from vitamin D insufficiency. Fatty fish such as tuna and salmon are the best natural sources, as well as liver, cheese, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Milk and breakfast cereals currently found on the market are fortified with vitamin D. Exposing the skin to direct sunlight is another method most people use for getting some of the needed vitamin D intake.
This is, by no means, a complete list of vitamin deficiencies that may pave the way to muscle pain and other health disorders. There are many other nutrients that can negatively affect your health when not found in sufficient quantities, including iodine, zinc, iron, magnesium, and others.
Modifying your diet to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need in order to avoid muscle pain and other painful symptoms will provide immediate results.Click To Tweet It is important not to diagnose yourself with vitamin deficiency and consult a physician before deciding to take any supplements. In case your symptoms are not related to vitamin deficiency, consider seeing a licensed chiropractor to determine the source of the pain and put your body on the path to recovery as soon as possible.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.