Vitamin B Complex and Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can be uncomfortable, even painful. Also called canker sores or mouth ulcers, these develop on the inside of your mouth. Mouth ulcers can result from B vitamin deficiencies, so taking vitamin B complex for ulcers may help.

Mouth ulcers can result from B vitamin deficiencies, so taking vitamins might be helpful in some cases. (Image: skaman306/Moment/GettyImages)

Vitamins for Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers can sometimes be the result of a deficiency of vitamin B12 or folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, according to the Cleveland Clinic. They can also result from an iron or zinc deficiency. Vitamins for mouth ulcers, like vitamin B12, can help alleviate the mouth sores if that's the cause, the Cleveland Clinic says. However, you should consult your doctor first.

Most go away after a week or two and aren't contagious. Vitamin deficiencies, however, are only one of many reasons you may develop mouth sores. Other causes include eating certain acidic fruits and vegetables. Strawberries, tomatoes, lemons, oranges and other acidic fruits and vegetables can cause you to develop a canker sore or make it worse.

Still, other causes can be nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), braces, a sharp tooth or having an autoimmune disease. People with lupus, Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases like celiac disease may get complex canker sores. The Mayo Clinic says other triggers may include toothpastes and mouthwashes containing sodium lauryl sulfate; Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria that cause peptic ulcers; or hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle.

Vitamin B and Canker Sores

If you suspect you are low on your B vitamins, your doctor may prescribe a nutritional supplement for folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and/or zinc, says the Mayo Clinic. Taking vitamin B complex for ulcers may help, based on a few recent studies regarding vitamin B and canker sores.

The journal Pain Management Nursing, the official journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses, chronicled a small study of 44 people in its June 2015 issue. Researchers gave half the group vitamin B12 ointment for two days, and found statistically significant differences in pain levels after those two days.

Vitamin B injections were the subject of a study in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Skin and Stem Cell. The study followed 60 patients who suffer from recurrent mouth sores. Half were given injections of vitamins B1, B6 and B12 for eight weeks. The other half were given chewable vitamin tablets composed of iron, folic acid, vitamin B complex and vitamin C.

All patients were treated for eight weeks and followed for 10 months. At the end of 10 months, the patients getting the injections of vitamin B had significantly fewer recurring lesions than those taking the vitamins by mouth. The authors also said many older studies, dating as far back as 1975, have found nutritional deficiencies in patients with mouth sores.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

If you have a sore inside your mouth, on your tongue, on the roof of your mouth or inside your cheeks, you may have a mouth or canker sore, the Cleveland Clinic says. These sores are often round or oval, white or gray with a red edge. If your sore is severe, you may have a fever, feel sluggish or have swollen lymph nodes. Some canker sores can take up to six weeks to heal.

Canker sores happen most often to teens and young adults, and females get them more than males, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's not unusual to have a family history of canker sores, possibly because of heredity, or because of a similar diet or allergens.

The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Unusually large canker sores
  • Recurring sores or frequent outbreaks
  • Persistent sores that last two weeks or more
  • Sores that extend into your lips
  • Pain you can't control with self-care
  • Extreme difficulty eating or drinking
  • High fever

Along with vitamins, a treatment plan can include the following, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center:

  • Brush and floss after meals to keep your mouth clean.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to avoid irritating your mouth and gums.
  • Use orthodontic waxes to cover sharp edges on braces or other dental devices.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation.
  • Keep a food diary. You may find connections between when canker sores appear and what you eat.
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