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Can Vitamin B12 Prevent Recurrent Canker Sores?

Vitamin supplements might help prevent recurrent canker sores that run in a family. Are there other remedies that might help?
Can Vitamin B12 Prevent Recurrent Canker Sores?
Close up Children with aphtha on lip

What do you for canker sores? Most of us get these painful lesions inside the cheek or on the tongue occasionally. They cause misery for a few days and then they disappear. But some individuals suffer canker sores that keep coming back time after time. Is there any way to prevent recurrent canker sores?

Vitamin B12 Against Recurrent Canker Sores:

Q. I had canker sores all my life. They would last a week or two, go away for a month or so and come back. It made brushing my teeth very difficult because they were so painful.

About 20 years ago, my doctor suggested taking vitamin B12. I started taking 500 mcg daily. It took a while to work, but now I rarely get canker sores.

My daughter used to get them, too. When she was a teenager, I started her on B12, which worked. Now her little boy is getting them. He is four years old. I’m wondering how old he should be to start taking the vitamin and at what dose.

What Could Be Causing the Problem?

A. With such a strong family history of recurrent canker sores, your daughter should ask the pediatrician to evaluate possible underlying causes. People with celiac disease often suffer from nutritional deficits that can cause canker sores (Journal of Dentistry, Oct. 2017). Too little folic acid, iron or zinc might be associated with this condition.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also contribute to severe canker sores (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Case Reports, June 12, 2019). If your grandson is low in this critical nutrient, the pediatrician can recommend the appropriate dose. The dose of vitamin B12 that you are taking is quite high, so we don’t know how much your grandson would need to prevent recurrent canker sores.

If nutritional deficiencies are not contributing, you may want to suggest that your daughter buy only SLS-free toothpaste. Some people find that the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate is linked to their canker sores.

Home Remedies for Canker Sores:

People who only get occasional canker sores can take their pick of home remedies to help them heal more quickly. Many people are enthusiastic about eating kiwi fruit at the first sign of pain. Other readers have gotten relief with red raspberry leaf supplements, chamomile mouthwash or hyaluronic acid mouth rinse. Swishing sauerkraut juice around in the mouth is another popular remedy. We don’t know whether other fermented liquids such as kombucha or kefir would also help.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Citations
  • Nieri M et al, "Enamel defects and aphthous stomatitis in celiac and healthy subjects: Systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies." Journal of Dentistry, Oct. 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.jdent.2017.07.001
  • Vigarios E et al, "Severe aphthous stomatitis secondary to vitamin B12 deficiency with isotretinoin therapy." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Case Reports, June 12, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.jdcr.2019.05.005
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