Having the "shakes" -- an episode of rhythmic, involuntary movements -- can be alarming, inconvenient and embarrassing. Medically known as essential tremor, the shakes usually become more apparent when you try to perform a fine-motor task such as threading a needle. Severity can range from a minor tremor to an obvious shaking that makes routine activities difficult to perform. A myriad of medical and nutritional problems can cause the shakes; according to Medline Plus, they are normally not dangerous in and of themselves. Some people turn to multivitamins to alleviate symptoms. Consult your doctor before taking vitamins.
Essential tremor can be caused by excessive caffeine, anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, nicotine and various medications. It can also accompany disorders such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, hyperthyroidism and genetic nerve conditions. Although the shakes usually affect your hands, they can also occur in your arms, head and even your eyelids. MedlinePlus notes that tremor actually occurs in everybody, but is usually so small as to be unnoticeable. Essential tremor usually doesn't require treatment unless it interferes with your daily life; your physician may advise anti-seizure drugs, mild tranquilizers or beta blockers. If you develop tremors, consult your doctor to rule out dangerous diagnoses. MedlinePlus notes that this is especially urgent if your tremors are accompanied by headache, weakness, abnormal motions in your tongue or uncontrollable muscle contractions.
Multivitamins Requirements and Precautions
Jane Higdon, PH.D., a research assistant at Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, reports that although there is no clinical proof that daily multivitamins lead to better health, research supports the role of certain nutrients in preventing serious chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Higdon advises making sure your multivitamin contains at least your daily recommended allowance of folic acid -- which can help prevent neural tube birth defects in newborns -- vitamin B-12, which becomes more difficult to absorb with increasing age, and vitamin D, due to insufficient sunlight in many climates in wintertime. If you are premenopausal, your multivitamin should contain at least 18 milligrams of iron. Men and postmenopausal women, however, should use iron-free multivitamins. Chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc should also be present. According to Higdon, a multivitamin shouldn't contain more than 2,500 International Units of the fat-soluble nutrient vitamin A.
Some doctors recommend B-complex vitamins to ease shakiness caused by anxiety. Dr. Elan D. Louis, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, reports that niacinamide -- a form of vitamin B-3 -- has mild anxiety-reducing properties that can provide partial relief from symptoms of essential tremor. Louis likens the effect of niacinamide to that of benzodiazepines, a class of anti-anxiety medications that includes diazepam, which is sold under the trade name Valium.
Several clinical studies support the ability of vitamin B-6, a water-soluble B-complex vitamin essential for proper brain function, to ease tremor associated with medications. In a study published in 2002 in "International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine," researchers found that vitamin B-6 significantly relieved tremor in patients who were receiving lithium. Don't take supplementary B-6 unless under the guidance of a physician.
University of Maryland Medical Center reports that vitamins E and C, both powerful antioxidants, may help ease tremor in people with Parkinson's disease. The Parkinson Research Foundation concurs that vitamins E and C with added bioflavonoids, when taken together, can help slow the progression of Parkinson's symptoms.
- MedlinePlus: Essential Tremor
- MedlinePlus: Tremor
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: What To Look For In A Multi-Vitamin Supplement
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12
- International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine: Lithium-Induced Tremor Treated with Vitamin B-6: A Preliminary Case Series
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-6: Pyridoxine
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin E
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Parkinson's Disease