Constipation is a gastrointestinal problem that results in infrequent bowel movements or difficulty in passing stools. According to the Mayo Clinic, constipation is generally diagnosed if you pass fewer than three stools a week. Various treatments are available that can relieve symptoms of constipation, including the oral ingestion of certain vitamin supplements. Consult your physician if you believe you are suffering from constipation to determine the right treatment for you.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is present in many different types of foods, supplements, and herbs, and may be an effective treatment for constipation. According to Crohns.net, a website for the management of Crohn's disease, increasing your vitamin C intake, especially when combined with the mineral magnesium, can decrease the effects of constipation and allow you to pass stools with more regularity.
Vitamin B5, also called pantothenic acid, is a naturally occurring vitamin that is essential for many different processes throughout your body and may be an effective treatment for constipation. When taken in very large amounts and on an empty stomach, pantothenic acid can cause diarrhea by softening your stools, which can relieve constipation. As a result, vitamin B5 is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription nutritional laxatives.
Vitamin B9, or folic acid, can help treat and prevent severe constipation. Folic acid is added to some fiber supplements and laxative medications because of its ability to stimulate movement along your gastrointestinal tract. Folic acid also acts as a stool-softener, allowing more liquid to remain in your stool, helping it pass through your intestines quicker.
Taking in too much or too little of certain vitamins can increase your risk of developing constipation. According to Katherine Zeratsky, a nutritionist with the Mayo Clinic, supplementing with too much vitamin D may cause calcium to build up in your blood stream, increasing your risk of becoming constipated. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in most animal products and can be fortified into breakfast cereals. One of the side effects of too little vitamin B12 is constipation. Getting adequate amounts of this vitamin can prevent symptoms of constipation from occurring.
- "The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs"; Nicola Reavley; 1999
- Crohns.net: Constipation
- Mayo Clinic; Vitamin D Toxicity: What if You Get Too Much?; Katherine Zeratsky; 2010
- Office of Dietary Supplements; Vitamin B12