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On joint pain and multivitamins

I am a 47 year old male, and here is my story of back and joint pain. For most of my life I was a regular exerciser and also regularly took multivitamins.

It began in my mid 20’s, when I got a nasty flu. Along with it came severe back pain, so much that for a day or two, I could hardly get out of bed. When the flu went away, so did the back pain. Weird. However, any time I got the flu after that, the back pain returned, not as bad as the first occurrence, but definitely there. As I got older, the recurring back pain would get a bit worse every time.

Fast forward to my late 30’s. The back pain started to intrude upon my life even when I didn’t have the flu. I chalked it up to old age and eased up a bit on exercise. But over the next few years, this became noticeably worse, and the back pain became a general joint pain everywhere. It gradually got worse and by my early 40’s it was debilitating. I stopped exercise entirely. Every joint hurt and I was able to crack not just my knuckles, but unexpected joints also such was wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, etc. Standing or even sitting was painful. But I toughed it out and started taking joint pills (glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM), which definitely helped.  There was a reduction of pain for a little while, and then it slowly started getting worse again.  Google was my friend, as were various medical websites, but I was unable to find anything helpful.

Then I saw an episode of “Mystery Diagnosis” of a man with remarkably similar symptomology and about my age. It turns out he had hemachromatosis, where his body was unable to rid itself of iron and the iron would gradually wear down his joints. The cure for him was regular blood-letting to get rid of the excess iron. As it turns out, I have always had congenitally low levels of iron in my blood so it could not possibly be my problem.

Months went by. Then one day I was reading the list of ingredients for my multivitamins. And after the list of vitamins, here is what I saw:

  • Iron 0 mg
  • Magnesium 120 mg
  • Zinc 15 mg
  • Selenium 110 mcg
  • Copper 2 mg
  • Manganese 2 mg
  • Chromium 120 mcg

This was a men’s formulation so there was no iron, but there were plenty of other metals at very high levels.  What the hell, I would stop taking the multivitamins for a few months and see what happens.  Within 3 days, there was a noticeable reduction of pain!  I had not expected such an immediate effect, and every day it got better.  It is now 3 years later without the vitamins and I continue to take the joint pills (twice a day instead of the recommended thrice, because who remembers to take a pill in the middle of the day).  The joint pain is virtually gone, the joint cracking has mostly gone away, and I estimate I am at the same state I was in my mid to late 30’s.  I still get a back ache when I get the flu, but I’ve learned to live with that.  I have not yet resumed regular exercise due to other issues (adhesive capsulitis of one shoulder, then the other), but I’m ready to now.

Since then I have heard of 2 other cases, one independent and the other person following my recommendation of cessation of multivitamins.  So this is not a case of unique body chemistry.  If this post helps you, then make a comment, maybe an enterprising medical researcher will start a clinical trial.

Discussion

19 thoughts on “On joint pain and multivitamins

  1. Hi, I have a similar history, back pain due to three damaged discs cause by a motorcycle accident in my teens. Nerve damage to my neck which is now, in my mid fifties causing a weakness in my right arm, so no more motorbikes.
    I have also been suffering for about 15 years with painfull elbow joints, a constant pain even at rest and in use. If I banged my right elbow it would become very painfull for days.
    I have also been taking multivitamins, including iron, due to my poor diet and other problems, not proscribed by a Doctor but self medication.
    I ran out of mulitivitamins and went without for a week but noticed a remarkable reduction in elbow pain? I then started to retake them and the pain returned.
    I now have stopped the multivitamins but tale vitamin C and cod liver oil, the oil for my poor old brain.
    I still have some pain but as you said old age and I still cycle, exercise and do weights.

    So I believe you have a point and this should be researched if it has not been already.

    Posted by Nigel Wright | June 1, 2013, 4:55 am
    • i have been trying to increase my magnesium level and have been taking numerous other supplements. Have been taking high doses of magnesium. I have started having pain in knees and hips mostly on one side. I will stop today and seewhat happens. Does anyone have any idea as to what particular supplement or supplements in the multi that is causingthe problem?

      Posted by Richard Younger | April 7, 2016, 10:32 am
  2. I had this problem also. I started taking a multivitamin in my late 20’s, and after about a year bought new work boots.. My joints in my knees made working almost unbearable, it came to the point where I thought It was the new boots were killing me.. I talked to my sister about the problem, she’s a nurse, and she said I could have zinc poisoning from the multi–, sure enough, I stopped taking the multi, and I feel great… Now I wonder if I should search for a multi with less to no zinc at all.

    Posted by Scott brown | March 24, 2014, 7:48 am
  3. I have the same problem, whenever i take multivitamins, pain specially in my knees is increased. What pills you take for joint pains?

    Posted by Saadat | November 26, 2014, 2:51 pm
    • Immediately stop taking the multivitamins. For the joint pain I take a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. Expect to take these joint pills for the next few years if not forever.

      Posted by slumbuddy | November 26, 2014, 4:49 pm
  4. I wanted to avoid getting the flu. At the first signs of a cold I took Vitamin C and Folic acid in addition to some coldezze. After a week of taking them, my joints hurt so much I could barely walk. I had a total knee replacement about 4 months ago and will be having the next one about August. So when my knees felt worse (both of them) I just thought I was walking too much. Except that I could barely move my arms. It hurt to even reach up to turn off the floor lamp. Even combing my hair hurt my arms. Holding on to the stair rails hurt my shoulders. Then I remember a year ago I had started taking a woman’s vitamin in addition to some folic vitamins. The same thing happened. I didn’t even connect it to the vitamins, but for some reason I figured that was the only new thing I had done differently so I stopped just in case. I noticed a complete improvement of my joint pain. Yep, for me vitamins give me tremendous joint pain.

    Posted by Ivy | March 22, 2015, 3:42 am
  5. Hello – I found this post by searching for ‘joint pain caused by mulitvitamins’. Im a woman in my early 40s, and my first ‘epidode’ was in my 20s. Generally very fit an healthy, I went to an ‘alternative therapist’ about allergies. She gave me extreme doses of calcium,zinc, iron and others, and I found myself on crutches within 2 months. I thought my joint pain could not possibly be caused by things that are so good for you!. Then, as with previous people, I thought that the supplementation was the only thing different that I have done, and it might be too much of a concidence. Stopping gave almost immediate relief. Later, I always had (lesser) knee and elbow pain whenever I took a regular multivitamin. I then found that when i took a pregnancy multivitamin and mineral (all lower dosages) all was OK so I stayed on those for a few years (despite them costing 10 times more)!! I was fine for a few years, and that brings us to now.

    Then recently I had an inflamed and painful knuckle. I went to the GP about it. blood tests ruled out ‘Rheumatoid Arthritis’ thankgoodness, but the swelling and pain still there, she sent me for an xray of my hand. I mentioned ‘could supplements cause joint pain’ but was just met with a blank stare. Other joints are starting to be slightly more clicky, and one or two more are slightly painful. My knees have been painful going up stairs for years and I just live with it (with and without any multivits). . I am not sure whenther I have haemochromatosis or as you mention, reacting to another heavy metal build up in my body.

    It seems that there is not much information out there! I am just now going to stop taking everything and see what happens this time. I sincerely hope that it is this and not some other debilitating condition.

    Good luck with your ongoing improvement.

    Posted by emma | May 22, 2015, 11:06 am
  6. I am experiencing this exact same thing at the moment! Every time I take a multivitamin my arms start to ache uncontrollably-and after a few days off it goes away. What could it be? Unfortunately I have some MTHFR mutations that I am trying to treat with methylated vitamins and the multivitamins help many other parts of my body but the arm pain is unbearable. I wish we could all figure out which of the individual components are the issue and then treat accordingly! That would solve a lot of problems!

    Posted by Crista | November 18, 2015, 1:21 pm
  7. Me too! But it is my hips and the pain is so bad I can not even walk. But no multi and no pain at all and no problem with movement. Kind of glad it is not just me….

    Posted by Pam | December 9, 2015, 12:37 pm
  8. I have experienced the same thing. I found your site because I noticed a connection between my severe knee pain and multivitamins. At first I thought it was because I was using a brand from the health food store, so I stopped taking them for several months until I thought I found a brand that would be more careful about their ingredients. I started using One a Day for women over 50. The pain returned even worse. I stopped taking the vitamins and haven’t taken them for two weeks. The pain is gone and I can bend my knees again and walk up stairs with no pain. I am amazed that vitamins would cause such severe problems, but this is actually my third time experiencing this, not my second. I just didn’t put two and two together the first time.

    Posted by siri | December 13, 2015, 10:27 am
  9. I am a 66 year old female. I am on no medication and exercise daily. I would take a multivitamin off and on but for the past couple of months I was taking them regularly. I’ve been noticing pain in my knees which kept getting worse even in bed at night. I was at the point where I was taking advil almost every day and was considering getting a knee brace especially for my right knee. One day I decided that I had very healthy meals the day before so I didn’t take one. I noticed my knees weren’t that bad during the night. The next day was even better. It has been over a week without vitamins and my knee pain is virtually gone. Glad to hear others with the same experience.

    Posted by Eileen | December 20, 2015, 12:36 pm
  10. Thank you all for showing me I’m not crazy.I fell down the stairs four years ago and have constant pain across the area in-between my shoulder blades and up the back of my neck,Dr said my back is disintegrating and to take a multivitamin so started taking the one a day gummies and pain increased plus I have horrible joint pain especially in my elbows and jaw and even my breasts swell and hurt so bad I can’t sleep, I ran out of them two days ago and was feeling good for once and got more and starting taking again and just woke up feeling like a truck ran me over,it has GOT to be the vitamins making me feel worse.When I told my husband he looked at me like I was crazy,but now I know others feel the same effect and I am throwing those vitamins out.Bless your day everybody.

    Posted by Yveee | December 28, 2015, 9:20 am
  11. I am a 53 year old female. Im at the hot flash stage in my life. But I noticed that my hot flash experience seemed to be worse than everyone elses. My big toe started to hurt. My foot started to hurt. My arm hurt. My back was killing me. I was sore as all heck in the mornings. I also thought I was just getting old and falling apart. Then one day I noticed my terrible night sweats (from the hot flashes) wasnt as bad. So I tried to remember what i had ate or not ate. Then I realized I forgot my multivitamin for a few days in a row (one a day). Could it be my multivitamin?! Yes it was! I stopped taking them and everything feels better. Hard to believe but hey, try it.

    Posted by Ciony Holloway | January 7, 2016, 12:14 am
  12. Your story is so much like mine. I am going to see my doctor for a blood test to see if i have the same condition my mom has with too much iron. But i feel much better now that i am off the vitamins.

    Posted by Dinah Cuthbertson | January 10, 2016, 8:55 pm
  13. Thank you tons! Similar story for me. Differences are i am female and never get flu. Other details very much alike. Im going to check my vitamins immediately! GOD bless you indeed!

    Posted by Stacie | February 24, 2016, 1:00 pm
  14. Same story again! I noticed a correlation years ago between some mega-multis and pain in my hands, but I thought it was just a bad brand. Recently, I’ve taken another multivitamin, and I literally couldn’t work for the pain in my right arm and neck. So, remembering what happened before, I stopped the multivitamin, and started feeling better. Last night I took one – ONE!, and the pain is ridiculous. That’s why I Googled “multivitamins cause joint pain” and found this thread. I hope more people make this connection. Apparently, it’s not some rare fluke that hardly affects anybody!!

    Posted by Ray | March 1, 2016, 9:55 pm
  15. Have had this same thing happen ever since my 20s. Would take a few bottles of a multivitamin after a bad flu was hard to shake, develop symptoms of arthritis, run out of vitamins for a week and notice the difference. Recently I tried to use Vitalux and one pill makes me miserable for 24 hours.

    Posted by Paula J Hennessy | March 27, 2016, 10:51 pm
  16. Thanks for your comments. I’m a physician who always takes MVI and as I remember the months I haven’t taken I was better and when I take it I am having with multiple joint pain, lower back, neck, shoulder and now every night new knee pain. I was checking google causes and I believe what you said. I will keep only take Chondroitin with Glucosamine and MSG as I read Chondroitin have comparative analgesic effect than formulated Celebr.. and some slow improvement of cartilage rebuilding and no with the above prescribed one. Other reason can give joint and many disease is aspartame, etc. Keep healthy and eat no GMO and organic is better to keep us in less risk of cancer and other sickness. In other countries people live healthier and longer but here in US we live more because the expenses of rapid response to illness but sick for ever and even worse. Me and my wife survived of Cancer and only common relation I believe was same food and lifestyle. Thanks God I am caring better of Us and people like you. Have a healthy life. I won’t take Multivitamins any more and will share this advise. Thanks

    Posted by Dr. Marlon | April 13, 2016, 11:56 am
  17. I am so glad I found this information. I am in my early 50’s. Work out regularly. Eat healthy. Am hypothyroid and take levothyroxine 50 mg. Had yearly doctor appointment and told him I noticed my hair was shedding a lot. Had blood work done and the results showed that my ferritin level was 30, but NOT that I was anemic. Ideally, for someone who is hypothyroid, ferritin level should be closer to 80. My doctor told me to take 325 mg of ferrous sulfate once a day and to take biotin forte with zinc and re do blood work in a month. Ferritin only went up to 31, so the doctor told me to start taking the ferrous sulfate twice a day. I noticed that my hair was growing, definitely not as dry, and shedding a lot less. The downfall was that I started to hear my joints crack all the time while working out. Then suddenly started to have pain/aching in one arm and three weeks later started having pain/aching behind one knee. I kept wondering if it was related to the supplements. I’m going to back off of the iron to see if the problem goes away.

    Posted by Kimberly | April 15, 2016, 9:38 pm

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