Vitamin B12 for pain?

Vitamin B12 for pain

Many people suffer from chronic pain and are looking for ways to get relief from the torment. It is not uncommon for them to then become dependent on painkillers and suffer from the side effects.

So ever since vitamin B12 was isolated in the 1940s, experts have been concerned with how the quick-living ingredient helps overcome joint and nerve pain in a safe way. In a review paper, researchers from the Desert Clinic Pain Institute in San Diego, CA, now present the latest findings: [1]

Animal studies

Animal studies show that vitamin B12 is effective for pain – in terms of regenerating damaged nerves and in terms of inhibiting pain-signaling metabolic pathways in the body. The results also suggest that there are benefits to giving vitamin B12 combined with painkillers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opiates.

Human studies

Clinical studies in which patients were given high doses of vitamin B12 showed that the vital substance is effective in treating back pain and neuralgia. However, further research is needed in this area. Also, it is an open question as to which treatment regimen is best, including side effects and overall safety of treatment:

Treating pain with vitamin B12: The risks

Scientists have long warned that high doses of vitamin B12 increase the risk of developing cancer, casting a shadow on its use as a remedy for pain: Because it must then be applied in doses far above the risk threshold of 25 micrograms per day.

For example, research published in 2019 described that blood levels of vitamin B12 and lung cancer risk are related – and independent of gender and whether smokers or non-smokers take high doses of vitamin B12. [2]

In 2017, researchers noted that lung cancer risk increases in men taking vitamin B6 and B12 supplements. [3]

First suspected link between high-dose intake of vitamin B12, folate and risk of developing lung cancer in 2009. [4]


The experts at the Pain Institute conclude from their data that vitamin B12 is supportive in the treatment of back and nerve pain. They also point out that further studies are needed to clarify how doctors best use the vital substance.

No side effects occur with excess vitamin B12 intake from foods and supplements in healthy individuals, writes the Institute of Medicine. [5] Nevertheless, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommends taking a maximum of 25 µg per day from supplements.

In view of the cancer risk, patients with chronic pain should not up-dose vitamin B12 on their own initiative. Better to seek advice. And tailor daily intake to need: in many cases, intake in dietary amounts (4 micrograms) is sufficient. [6 ] However, in cases of vitamin B12 absorption disorders or deficiency, for example, high dosing is unavoidable.

Vitamin B12 instead of pain pills – would you have guessed it?

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