If you suffer from pins and needles and painful burning or tingling in your hands and feet, then you may have vitamin B12 deficiency. There are many causes of chronic pain and numbness, most of them strongly linked to extremely low vitamin B12 levels or resulting pernicious anemia.
Getting enough vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for your nervous system, but sometimes we don’t get enough, either because of diet or underlying health issues.
Eating a vegan diet devoid of B12-rich meats, fish, and cheese is one way of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, but it is also common in the elderly and people who have had gastrointestinal surgery such as gastric bypass.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur with migraine, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain, as autoimmune history and gastrointestinal problems combine to further raise your chances for developing vitamin B12 deficiency and resulting nerve pain.
If you’re experiencing constant nerve pain and numbness, then you should consider vitamin B12 deficiency as a possible cause.
Vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy
Neuropathy is any kind of nerve damage that causes intense pain and numbness. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common forms of nerve pain, but it can also occur as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency or, if prolonged, pernicious anemia.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy include:
- Painful numbness and tingling in the extremities
- Burning or itchy skin rashes
- Sore burning tongue
- Difficulty controlling arm and leg movements
- Muscle spasms
Vitamin B12 and your nerves
Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system by sustaining myelin, a fatty substance that insulates your nerve fibers and enhances intercellular communication, so that sensory messages travel along the spinal cord to the brain quickly and efficiently.
When vitamin B12 levels become depleted, you suffer symptoms resulting from demyelination, destruction of the nerve cell’s outer coating. This is the same process that occurs in patients of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Nervous impulses become slower, and symptoms of tingling, burning, pain and numbness from vitamin B12 deficiency become more frequent.
Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can impair your nervous system and cause severe handicaps.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often comorbid with diabetes. Diabetics taking metformin are at a high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, as metformin is one of several drugs that prevent absorption of vitamin B12 from foods.
If you are a diabetic using metformin, then it’s crucial sustain vitamin B12 levels through supplementation.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is harder to diagnose in people with diabetes, as the symptoms of pain and numbness are already masked by preexisting diabetic neuropathy. Routine vitamin B12 blood tests are recommended for all diabetics using metformin.
Treating nerve pain and numbness
If nerve pain results from vitamin B12 deficiency, then it’s important to boost your intake of vitamin B12 immediately.
The best, most digestible sources of vitamin B12 are non-dietary supplements that are absorbed into your bloodstream, as opposed to vitamin B12 pills that you swallow.
For best results, start out with 1,000mcg of vitamin B12 weekly or more often, as needed or recommended by your doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants for neuropathic pain, or he may advise anti-convulsant drugs. All of these, over extended periods of time, may result in uncomfortable side effects, so use with caution.
Topical treatments used to relive arthritis may help to relieve nerve pain, without any harmful side effects.
If you suffer nerve pain and numbness, have you been tested for vitamin B12 deficiency?
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
Share with your friends!
If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.
Like this? Read more:
Image courtesy of marin/freedigitalphotos