Edema is the swelling caused by retention of fluids in body tissues and usually affects the feet, ankles and legs. Widespread, long-term edema may indicate a serious underlying problem and should not be ignored. Excess salt intake; sunburn; heart, liver and kidney diseases; pregnancy; and certain medications increase the risk of edema. Some vitamins and natural supplements may help manage the condition.
B vitamins are essential for proper functioning of several metabolic processes in the body and for red blood cell formation. According to The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness, deficiency of B vitamins, especially vitamins B-1 and B-2, can lead to edema and swelling. B vitamins deficiency can be avoided by eating foods such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy products that are rich in B vitamins. Vitamin B complex supplements can also be purchased from most pharmacies without prescription and can be well tolerated by most individuals with minimal side effects.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin found in citrus fruits, berries, cantaloupes, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day to treat edema due to its ability to neutralize harmful free radicals formed in the body as a result of various metabolic processes. Apart from diet, vitamin C can also be obtained from synthetic supplements. However, it is important to follow dosage instructions carefully as an overdose can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea.
Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the human body can produce significant amounts of the vitamin when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D can also be obtained from dairy products, fish and oysters. Individuals with vitamin D deficiency can take synthetic supplements, but it is best to talk to doctor before taking them as chronic use of high doses of vitamin D can lead to kidney stones, vomiting and muscle pain. Apart from maintaining healthy bones, a study published in “The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology” in April 2009 states that vitamin D can be used in combination with progesterone therapy to treat edema associated with brain injury.
Vitamin E is another fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties and is found in wheat germ, olives, nuts and corn, along with synthetic supplements. Several animal studies, such as the one published in the November-December 2002 edition of the “European Journal of Ophthalmology” states that vitamin E can have a protective effect on retinal edema that may occur during eye injury. However, it is important to consult a physician before taking high doses of vitamin E supplements as their chronic use may increase the risk of death.
- "European Journal of Ophthalmology"; The protective effects of melatonin, vitamin E and octreotide on retinal edema during ischemia-reperfusion in the guinea pig retina.; Yilmaz T et al; November-December 2002
- The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness: Vitamin Deficiencies - An Overview
- "The Journal of Federation of American Society for Experimental Biology"; Vitamin D improves progesterone-mediated reductions in edema following traumatic brain injury; Silvia M Figueiroaet al; April 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Edema