Vitamins and Constipation

By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS
Vitamins and constipation

vitamins and constipation

Even though vitamins play an important role in functioning of the body many people think that if some is good, a lot is better.

But this is not true. For most vitamins, an excess can be toxic and cause various problems, including constipation.

An excess of some vitamins can result in constipation. However, there are also some vitamins whose deficiency may result in constipation.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not water soluble.

Hence a high dose or intake of vitamin D can result in toxicity. 

Excessive Vitamin D may result in abnormally high level of calcium in the blood.

This may result in kidney stones, constipation, nausea and abnormal heart rhythm.

Let's take a look at other ways vitamins and constipation may associate.

Prenatal Vitamins

This is a vitamin and mineral supplement designed specifically for use while a woman is pregnant and after delivery during lactation.

Prenatal vitamins contain nutrients specifically well suited for an expectant mother. They contain vitamins like folic acid and higher concentrations of minerals like iron and calcium, while containing less Vitamin A and other nutrients with the best development of the fetus in mind.

Many women have problems in taking prenatal vitamins. Constipation may be be the result of the high iron and calcium content in prenatal vitamins.

This is yet again another example of vitamins and constipation interacting in less than desirable ways.


Many times multivitamins aren't just vitamins, but also offer some minerals, including iron and calcium.

It is this mineral content which can cause constipation. Supplemental calcium can cause constipation, bloating and gas.

Calcium citrate tends to have fewer of these side effects than calcium carbonate. To reduce symptoms, one can try spreading out their calcium intake and take it with meals. or take the supplement with meals.

Multivitamins may be prescribed to treat anemia caused by a deficiency of iron. This iron can result in abdominal distressconstipation, dark colored stools, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

To reduce side effects, a person can begin by taking a half dose, then slowly work up to the full dose. Another way to help reduce iron supplement symptoms is to divide up the dose, taking it two or three times a day with meals.

How about an iron supplement that is delay released or has an enteric coating? While it is true thattheys don't have as many side effects, they aren't absorbed as well and usually are not recommended.

Vitamin B-Complex

Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin.

As such it is unlikely to cause toxicity due to an overdose of Vitamin B complex. Deficiency of Vitamin B-complex can cause constipation.

A deficiency of Vitamin B12 can result in weight loss, a loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, constipation and megaloblastic anemia.

Vitamin B complex vitamins are naturally found in foods like almonds, most leafy greens, and whole grains.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is important to the body.

It is needed for numerous chemical reactions needed to keep the body working properly.

Close to 80% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. This is especially true among women.

Studies have shown that a magnesium deficiency can result in constipation.

On the other hand, magnesium is well known for its laxatives qualities.

Therefore the regular intake of supplemental magnesium may prove to be quite effective against constipation.

Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the colon, countering the tendency of calcium to tighten up the colon muscle. The relaxing effect of magnesium can help to improve bowel movements.

Note: As with any over-the-counter remedy, talk with your doctor before starting on a magnesium supplement.

Supplemental magnesium may interfere with certain prescription medications. Those with kidney disease should not take a magnesium supplement unless instructed to do so by their doctor.

(Return from Vitamins and Constipation to Causes of Constipation)

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