Take Note: Vitamin B12 Has a Reputation in the Singing Community

FEBRUARY 09, 2018
Kelsey Fontneau, 2018 PharmD Candidate, the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy
Can vitamin B12 (cobalamin) help singers vocalize? Although researchers have conducted no clinical trials to evaluate the vocal benefits of vitamin B12, the singing community at large endorses the energy boosting and anxiety fighting effects of the supplement.

Researchers from the University of Southern California Voice Center aimed to assess 2 main outcomes:
  • Prevalence of vitamin B12 use among singers, and
  • Beliefs regarding vitamin B12 therapy among singers and laryngologists.
Participants included 192 singers, singing teachers, speech-language pathologists (SLPs), and laryngologists. Participants self-reported answers through an online survey.

The findings indicated that singers and laryngologists hold different beliefs regarding the benefits of vitamin B12 therapy.

Among singers, the belief that vitamin B12 use provides vocal benefits is common, with about one-third of singers indicating vitamin B12 helps singers. Similar prevalence occurred among singers that were SLPs and singers that were not SLPs. One of every 5 survey participants reported that they would recommend this therapy to a friend.

According to the survey, laryngologists do not believe that vitamin B12 therapy provides any benefit and would not recommend or prescribe vitamin B12. Laryngologists overestimated the number of people in the singing community that believe in voice benefits of the vitamin.

Perceived benefits of vitamin B12 therapy include improved stamina, reduced effort, confidence, control.

Possible benefits may be direct, indirect, or attributed to placebo effect. Directly, vitamin B12 reduces skin’s redness, dryness, and inflammation. These benefits may also apply to vocal folds/laryngeal tissues. Possible indirect effects were derived from clinical trial results: treatment with vitamin B complex has been associated with increased energy levels and reduced workplace stress. Researchers have confirmed that placebo effect can impact athletes’ performances, clinical trials, and other studies.

Study results are not conclusive at this time. Clinical trials are necessary to verify or refute the singing community's beliefs about vitamin B12's voice benefits. This study appears in the Journal of Voice.

Reference
Shoffel-Havakuk H, Lava CX, Hapner ER, O'Dell K, Reder L, Johns MM 3rd. The singer's and the clinician's perspective on vitamin B(12) treatment for vocal benefits. J Voice. 2018. doi:10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.10.021.
 

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