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Often, it can seem that incontinence is related to eating or drinking too much: If you have too much water before bed, you’ll experience incontinence overnight. If you eat too many spicy foods, you can suffer urinary leakage. However, in some cases, getting too little of something can also lead to incontinence. Specifically, not getting enough of certain vitamins can impact urinary leakage. Here’s how to tell whether a vitamin deficiency is impacting your symptoms.
As the Harvard Medical School’s health blog notes, up to 20 percent of older adults have a borderline deficiency of vitamin B12. Either these adults do not consume enough vitamin B12-containing foods, or their bodies cannot absorb the vitamin even if they are eating foods rich in B12. While this condition is common, it is often under-diagnosed.
Individuals who have had weight-loss surgery, or who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are particularly susceptible to vitamin B12 shortages. Heartburn drugs can also impact vitamin absorption, since they alter the stomach acidity. Chronic underlying conditions such as celiac’s disease can also impact vitamin absorption.
Vitamin B12 has a number of nerve and mood symptoms, including anemia, weakness or fatigue, memory loss, balance problems, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, depression, paranoia, or incontinence.
Weekly vitamin shots or vitamin supplements can increase the absorption of vitamin B12 within the body, and help to diminish incontinence.
Vitamin D deficiency has a direct relationship with incontinence. If you do not get enough vitamin D in your diet, you are more likely to suffer from pelvic floor problems. These include both urinary and fecal incontinence. Individuals with higher amounts of vitamin D in their body are less likely on the whole to suffer from incontinence-related issues, WebMD reports. As many as one in four women experience some type of pelvic floor issue, and the likelihood of experiencing pelvic floor problems only increases with age.
Researchers suggest that increasing vitamin D intake can help to alleviate pelvic floor problems, including incontinence. They even believe that improved vitamin D intake can help to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor region. A lack of vitamin D in the diet also impacts bone density, and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that negatively impacts the pelvic floor. There are many benefits to increasing the amount of vitamin D in your diet, either through supplements or through food naturally rich in vitamin D.
A 2005-2006 study of 1,881 women over age 20 revealed that 82 percent of the participants had levels of vitamin D that were considered deficient, WebMD reveals. If you are a female, it’s statistically likely that you are not getting enough vitamin D in your diet, and could be setting yourself up for pelvic floor problems as a direct result.
If you think that vitamin deficiency may be playing a role in your incontinence, talk to your doctor. He or she can test your vitamin levels and talk with you about safely adding vitamin supplements or increasing your vitamin consumption through a healthy diet.
For more information about incontinence, and ways to treat your symptoms, visit our resource center.