Your doctor may prescribe certain vitamins for neck and shoulder pain if you have vitamin deficiencies. Here's what you need to know about these vitamins, as well as some natural remedies for neck pain and shoulder pain.
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Vitamins for neck and shoulder pain include B12, C and D. Consult your doctor before you take any supplements for neck pain or shoulder pain.
Understanding Neck and Shoulder Pain
A pain in the neck can quite literally be a pain in the neck. Throw in some shoulder pain and it can be quite difficult and uncomfortable for you to move around or go about your day.
Read more: What Are the Causes of Burning Neck Pain?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, it is estimated that seven out of 10 people have had neck pain at some point in their lives. The good news, however, according to the UK's National Health Service, is that most cases of neck pain and shoulder pain only last a few weeks.
Harvard Health Publishing states that neck pain rarely starts overnight; it usually evolves over time and can be made worse by conditions like arthritis, degenerative disc disease and declining muscle strength. Harvard Health lists stress, bad posture and lack of sleep as some of the causes of neck pain.
Penn Medicine explains that certain everyday actions can also cause neck and shoulder pain. For instance, sleeping in an odd position can cause the muscles in your neck to get irritated, a condition known as torticollis. Some household chores that involve leaning your head backward for extended periods of time, like cleaning the gutters on your roof for instance, can also cause neck and shoulder pain if you're not in the habit of doing them often.
Read more: Neck & Muscle Pain After Exercise
Slumping over your desk is a major cause of neck and shoulder pain, notes Penn Medicine, especially if your computer is below eye level. Shoulder bags also cause wear and tear and pain because the muscles in your neck, shoulder and back are constantly working to maintain your balance and keep your head and shoulders upright. It is recommended that you switch to backpacks instead, to help distribute the weight across both shoulders.
Lifting children can also cause neck and shoulder pain, if you don't do it right. Penn Medicine recommends squatting your knees instead of bending your back and keeping the child as close to your own body as possible when you lift to prevent a neck ache.
Vitamins for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Apart from taking preventive measures to ensure that you're not straining your neck and shoulders, Penn Medicine notes that stretching and maintaining a basic level of fitness can go a long way. Your diet also plays a role, because it helps you maintain strong muscles, bones and joints. Deficiencies of certain nutrients can make it more likely for you to develop neck and shoulder pain.
Read more: 4 Exercises to Do When Your Neck Pain Is Brutal
If you are experiencing severe neck or shoulder pain, you should visit your doctor to figure out what's causing it, get tested for nutrition deficiencies and get a prescription for vitamin or mineral supplements for neck pain and shoulder pain, if necessary.
Understanding the role that various vitamins play in neck and shoulder pain can enable you to have an informed conversation with your doctor. Avoid taking vitamin supplements for neck pain or shoulder pain without consulting your doctor, because excess doses of certain vitamins can also have negative side effects, according to the Victoria State Government.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, natural remedies for neck pain and shoulder pain include ice packs in the first two days when the pain is acute and heating pads thereafter. Another natural remedy for neck pain and shoulder pain is a cervical collar, which can be effective if used for short periods of time.
Vitamin D, a Critical Nutrient
The University of Rochester Medical Center lists vitamin D as an important nutrient in the prevention of problems like back and neck pain. A small study involving 54 patients with chronic neck pain, published in the April 2018 issue of the British Journal of Neurosurgery, found that vitamin D deficiencies were common among people who had chronic neck pain.
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends that adults under the age of 70 get 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day and that adults over the age of 70 get 20 micrograms of this nutrient per day.
According to the ODS, vitamin D is available in four forms. To begin with, your skin synthesizes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun. Some foods, like fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms also offer vitamin D. Fortified foods, like breakfast cereals, juices and yogurt may also supply this vitamin. Last, your doctor may prescribe vitamin D supplements if you have a deficiency of this nutrient.
Read more: 9 Ways to Help Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin B12, a Natural Painkiller
A November 2013 study published in the journal Neural Plasticity found that vitamin B12 could help relieve neck pain. The authors of the study compare this nutrient to a painkiller because it helps injured nerves regenerate themselves and lowers the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, most adults need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require slightly higher quantities of this vitamin.
Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is not easily available from plant-based sources. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that it is most commonly found in animal products like fish, clams, organ meats like beef liver, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Some fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast products also contain vitamin B12, however the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that the body is best able to absorb it from animal sources. Vitamin B12 is also found in multivitamins and is available in supplement form.
Read more: Benefits and Side Effects of Vitamin B12
Vitamin C for Collagen Synthesis
A November 2016 study published in the journal Pain explains that vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen, which helps maintain healthy bones, tendons and ligaments. The study found that lower levels of vitamin C are associated with neck pain and lower back pain, as well as conditions like arthritis. The authors of the study note that vitamin C levels in the general population tend to be low.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is between 75 and 120 milligrams a day, depending on age, gender and other factors like whether you smoke or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, this nutrient is found in fruits and vegetables. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables a day should provide 150 to 200 milligrams of vitamin C, which is enough to satisfy your daily requirement.
- Harvard Health Publishing: “The 7 Faces of Neck Pain”
- National Health Service: “Neck Pain”
- National Health Service: “Shoulder Pain”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “6 Ways to Ease Neck Pain”
- Penn Medicine: “5 Possible Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain”
- Victoria State Government: Better Health Channel: “Vitamins — Common Misconceptions”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “How to Soothe a Sore Neck”
- University of Rochester Medical Center: “Back and Neck Pain”
- British Journal of Neurosurgery: “Vitamin D and Ferritin Correlation With Chronic Neck Pain Using Standard Statistics and a Novel Artificial Neural Network Prediction Model”
- Office of Dietary Supplements: “Vitamin D”
- Neural Plasticity: “Methylcobalamin: A Potential Vitamin of Painkiller”
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Vitamin B12”
- Pain: “Serum Vitamin C and Spinal Pain: A Nationwide Study”
- Linus Pauling Institute: “Vitamin C”