Most multivitamin brands boast about their ability to improve our skin, nails, bones, and hair, which are some amazing perks. However, did you know that vitamins and minerals have an impact on our bladder health, too? Sometimes those leaks and drips are the result of you missing a few key ingredients that are needed to keep your bladder happy and healthy. Keep reading to learn about the key vitamins and minerals your body needs to have great urinary health.
Vitamin B12, sometimes referred to as cobalamin, helps in lowering the risk of heart disease, creating new red blood cells and DNA, breaking down fatty acids and protecting nerve cells. This vitamin is pretty important considering a deficiency could cause dementia, memory loss, and numbness in limbs. In fact, bladder leaks (incontinence) is one of the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. So is orthostatic hypotension, which is rapidly dropping blood pressure when you stand up.
B12 is most commonly found in animal products like meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese and eggs. Some cereals and soymilk also have some vitamin B12. If you’re following a vegan or vegetarian diet then you may experience a B12 deficiency, so be sure to eat supplements that include B12. Nutritional yeast is a great choice. In addition, you may find that your body doesn’t absorb vitamin B12 like it used to as you age. Digestive changes or conditions, like Celiac disease, can cause issues with B12 absorption too.
Many of us know the most common benefits of Vitamin D because it was preached to us through commercials, at school, and from our parents. We were taught that if we had enough vitamin D, also known as calciferol, then we were sure to have strong teeth and bones. But, how so? Well, vitamin D essentially helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. When we don’t have enough of it then we put ourselves at risk for bone fractures and bone loss. Being vitamin D deficient is also linked to pelvic floor disorders, which can also lead to bladder leaks (and fecal incontinence).
If you’re looking for vitamin D, then you can find it in milk, margarine, cereals and fatty-types of fish like salmon. However, most people get their vitamin D from sunlight. Those who live in extremely northern or southern climates where the sun only comes out a few times a year may experience vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, can reduce the risk of cancer found in the mouth, esophagus, stomach and breast, as well as reduce the risk of cataracts. This vitamin strengthens the immune system, creates serotonin and helps build collagen that repairs wounds. While too little vitamin C can cause scurvy, too much can cause overactive bladder problems. For vitamin C or any other nutrient to work correctly, a balance must be struck.
You can find vitamin C in many fruits and some vegetables, especially any citrus fruit. Potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, spinach, and strawberries all have high amounts of vitamin C too. So, if you’re experiencing bladder leaks, try backing off some of these high Vitamin C foods and other dietary irritants to see if it makes a difference. And if you need some backup protection while you experiment, Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear.
As previously mentioned, calcium helps vitamin D to build and protect bones. It also helps with muscle contractions, blood clots, and the nervous system. Calcium can help maintain blood pressure and properly secrete hormones. Too much calcium can be a very bad thing, though, and can increase the risk of bladder problems.
For instance, one study found that there was a connection between calcium intake and overactive bladder symptoms. Women who consumed more than 1000mg of supplemental calcium each day were twice as likely to experience OAB symptoms. In addition, too much calcium can cause kidney disease and stones, so keeping a proper level is super important.
Our own bodies already try to help prevent too much calcium as we only absorb about 30 percent of the mineral that we eat. Foods with a lot of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, salmon, sardines and leafy green vegetables like kale and collard greens.
Zinc helps with the immune system, healing wounds, and our ability to taste and smell. This mineral can help liver health, create new proteins, and can slow age-related macular degeneration. Zinc is also known to help treat UTIs due to how it can combat uropathogenic E. coli, which is the bacteria that causes them.
You can find zinc in animal products like red meat, poultry, oysters and other seafood. Cereals, beans, and nuts also contain this mineral. Those on a vegan or vegetarian diet may develop a zinc deficiency which can cause urinary tract infections. People who don’t eat meat are often instructed to consume twice the recommended amount of zinc from plants.
Know What You Need
The careful balance of vitamins and minerals keeps us and our bladders healthy, but there’s just one problem: many of us are deficient. In the U.S., about 42% of people are deficient in vitamin D and 20% are deficient in vitamin B12. Therefore, if you’re experiencing issues with bladder leaks or sudden it urges, it’s worth it to have your levels checked.
The Western diet is pretty low in several essential vitamins and on top of that, a lot of people have trouble absorbing certain nutrients. At the end of the day, it’s best to talk with your doctor. You may find that all you need is a little more of one of the above vitamins and/or minerals to combat bladder leaks.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH