According to research by a team of physicians as Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a dose of 1000mcg of Vitamin B12 taken nightly at bedtime was found to be an effective treatment for preventing canker sores.
Canker sores, also known as Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis or RAS, are small open sores or ulcers that can appear on the inside lips, cheeks, tongue, gum and even on the roof of the mouth. They are usually white or yellow with a red border. Women in particular as susceptible and they typically first show up in adolescence. No one knows for sure what causes them, but according to Dr. Ilia Volvov, a lecturer in Ben-Gurion University Department of Family Medicine and the study leader, Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis affects at least 25% of the population and perhaps even more.
What the Study Revealed
Fifty eight people with recurring canker sores were randomly chosen for the study and divided into two groups. For six months the first group of 31 received a nightly dose of vitamin B12 while the remaining were given a placebo. Researchers found that the average number of mouth ulcers and the duration of the lesions were reduced significantly. The group that took the vitamin reported experiencing less pain, fewer mouth sores, and outbreaks were of less duration. Approximately 74 percent of the treated patients in the study experienced remission by the end of the six-month period. Only 34% of the placebo group had the same result.
Just Why Did It Work?
The researchers were unable to determine the reason, but frequent canker sore sufferers should rejoice that they may have a solution to their mouth sore outbreaks. One possible reason the supplementation worked is because a large number of people have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is critical for nerve health and the production of red blood cells. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, slow reflexes, sore mouth and tongue, dizziness and trouble with balance, memory loss, chest pain or shortness of breath, among other symptoms. Vitamin B12 deficiency is not uncommon in vegans and vegetarians because many food sources such as liver, meat, yogurt, milk and eggs are not part of their diet.
Because vitamin B12 is absorbed in your small intestine, certain medications including diabetes drugs and some pain meds can affect absorption, as can intestinal parasites. If you suffer from frequent canker sores and/or experience any other symptoms mentioned above, you should see your doctor, who can order a blood test to check your vitamin B12 level.
Vitamin B12 Therapy for Your Canker Sores
First let’s look at the dosage used in the study. The dose found to be effective was 1000 micrograms. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for vitamin B12 is only 2.4 mcg per day, a mere fraction of the study dosage. In fact, the study dose was a whopping 416 times higher than the DRI. According to the American Dietetic Association there is no known toxicity to taking large doses of Vitamin B12. You may want to consult with your doctor and consider treating your canker sores by taking a daily supplement of 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12.
It would be pretty hard to get enough B12 through diet alone; actually it is pretty much impossible. While liver is high in B12, many people find it pretty difficult if not impossible to eat. Other options include eggs, milk and yogurt, as well as 100% fortified cereals, all of which can be part of a healthy diet, but still nowhere near enough to banish canker sores. For instance, fortified breakfast cereal contains 6 mcg, a cup of milk contains 0.9 mcg and 8 ounces of skim yogurt has 1.4 micrograms. You would have to eat 714 cups of yogurt a day to get your 1000 mcg or eat 166 bowls of cereal!
Looking at multi-vitamins, most multis contain on average only 100 mcg of Vitamin B12, which is just a 10th of the dosage in the study. Furthermore, many multivitamins contain the cheap synthetic form of B12 called cyanocobalamin, which doesn’t work as well as it is poorly absorbed and your body has to work hard to get it into the form that it can use. The preferred type is methylcobalamin, which is more expensive but far superior because it offers increased absorption and better retention in body tissues. There was a study published in April 2012 by Medicine Net that found that people who took a daily multi-vitamin did not see an improvement in their canker sores. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out after seeing the results of the Ben Gurion study that the average amount of B12 in a multiple vitamin (typically in the 100 mcg range, often far less) was most likely much too low to be effective.
What is the Solution for You
If you suspect you have a vitamin B12 deficiency you should see your doctor. You may want to consider supplementing with 1000 mcg of B-12. daily, which appears to be the best means to keep canker sores at bay.
Source: Vitamin B12 identified As An Effective Canker Sore Therapy, Study Suggests (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092732.htm)