Can Supplements Help With Incontinence?
If you suffer with incontinence, chances are you’d love to swap your Tena incontinence pants for a simple supplement pill a couple of times a day. No more discreet deliveries of Tena incontinence pants from IncoDirect. No more worrying about leaks or accidents.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While there is lots of anecdotal evidence and personal accounts that claim supplements can help with, or even cure, incontinence, there is very little scientific evidence to back this up.
Google ‘supplements for incontinence’ and you will find plenty of products that claim to help. These range from common substances, such as magnesium and vitamin D, to exotic mushrooms like ganoderma lucidum. Even cornsilk, the stringy fibres at the end of a corn cob, are claimed to help with symptoms, when taken as a supplement or with tea. You can find companies claiming everything from Native American berries, like saw palmetto, to South African shrubs, like buchu, will ease your incontinence and promote a healthy urinary tract. However, there simply isn’t the evidence to back them up.
While scientific studies of supplements are rare, there is good evidence for the effectiveness of vitamin C and vitamin D. One study of 2060 women, aged 30-79, in the Boston area, found that dietary vitamin C helped with voiding problems. However, it is worth noting that the study also found that high dose supplements of vitamin C made incontinence symptoms worse.
A broad review of research, which looked at 12 previous studies, found a significant link between low levels of vitamin D and problems with the pelvic floor, including incontinence. Six out of seven studies reviewed showed a link between vitamin D deficiency and the onset and severity of urinary incontinence, while two randomised controlled trials found that vitamin D supplements helped ease the symptoms. A second similar survey also agreed with these findings, concluding that ‘mean vitamin D levels were significantly lower for women reporting at least one pelvic floor disorder, and for those with urinary incontinence, irrespective of age.’
It is widely accepted that it’s better to get your essential vitamins and minerals from your food than from supplements if you can. The Boston study underlines this, showing that high dose supplements actually made incontinence worse, compared to natural dietary vitamin C which helped. You can find all the vitamins and minerals you need in your everyday diet, for example:
- Vitamin C – citrus fruits are an obvious source of vitamin C, but these are also acidic and can irritate the bladder. It is better to get your vitamin C from other fruits and vegetables, such as green and red peppers, leafy greens, broccoli and potatoes.
- Vitamin D – the best source of vitamin D is sunlight, so make sure you get out and about when you can, especially in winter. You can also find vitamin D in eggs and dairy products, as well as fish and fish oils.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is important for nerve and muscle function and can help with bladder function, including the nerve signals from the brain. You can find magnesium in nuts and seeds, avocados, bananas and many pulses such as black beans and quinoa.
Should you take supplements?
There is little scientific evidence to support the use of dietary supplements to treat incontinence, and some evidence to suggest that they will actually do more harm than good. For example, the Boston study cited above found that supplementary calcium was associated with bladder storage issues in the same way as high dose vitamin C. There is also a risk that high dose vitamins and minerals can interfere with your existing medications or medical conditions, so it is important to consult your GP before starting any new treatment.
That said, there is lots of anecdotal evidence for various supplements, and many people swear by their effectiveness, so there may be some truth behind them. As long as you don’t build your hopes too high, or run your bank balance too low, there is no harm in trying them out to see if they work for you. Just remember; with incontinence affecting millions of people around the world, if there really was a miracle cure, we would all know about it by now.
With discreet, door to door delivery of high-quality incontinence products, such as Tena incontinence pants, you can manage your condition effectively without putting your health at risk. To find out more about our incontinence products visit our shop: https://www.incodirect.co.uk/