Vitamin Deficiency & Leg Pain

Pain in your legs is never a normal situation. Leg pain is caused by a multitude of factors, including muscle sprain, muscle strain, running and working out too vigorously. Leg pain not associated with injury or overuse of your muscles can be due to a medical problem. If you experience unexplained leg pain, discuss it with your doctor. It may be the result of a vitamin deficiency, especially if you have a serious medical condition, such as diabetes, or are a vegetarian or vegan. A simple blood test can determine if your body is lacking any vitamins.

A man is standing outside with leg pain. (Image: pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin B-12

Your body needs vitamin B-12, or cobalamin, for production of red blood cells, synthesis of DNA and conduction of nerve impulses. When you lack vitamin B-12, you can develop painful numbness and tingling in your legs, general muscle weakness and have difficulty walking. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, adults require 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily. The best way to get vitamin B-12 is through your diet. It's found in beef, salmon, chicken, dairy foods and eggs. If you are vegetarian or vegan, include vitamin B-12-fortified grains in your diet. Vitamin B-12 supplements are also available, but discuss taking one with your physician first.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps absorb calcium from your digestive tract for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Direct sunlight exposure stimulates your skin cells to manufacture it. MedlinePlus states that adults need 15 to 20 micrograms of vitamin D per day, and direct exposure to the sun without sunscreen for 10 minutes to 15 minutes three times weekly provides enough. Insufficient levels of vitamin D cause your bones to soften, leading to aches and pains in your legs. Add vitamin D foods to your diet, including beef liver, tuna, mushrooms and milk fortified with vitamin D. Take vitamin D supplements only under your doctor's supervision because high doses of vitamin D are toxic.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is important for collagen production and wound healing. It also protects your cells from damaging chemicals called free radicals. Vitamin C deficiency causes joint pain and bone pain in your legs. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily. Food sources include oranges, kiwi, strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes and broccoli. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you smoke, you may need additional vitamin C. Ask your health care provider for advice about taking vitamin C supplements.

Taking Precautions

Your diet is the best way to get all the vitamins you need to avoid leg pain and other vitamin deficiency problems. Eat a well-rounded diet consisting of protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products. If you are vegan or vegetarian, or have diet restrictions, talk to your physician about the vitamin-fortified foods you should eat. Never diagnose yourself with a vitamin deficiency. Have your health care provider order a simple blood test to determine if you need extra vitamins. Take any vitamin supplements only under your doctor's care because high levels can also have harmful effects.

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