If your arms and legs keep falling asleep on a regular basis, then you may be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. Here are some facts about “pins and needles” caused by paresthesia, and what you can do for relief.
Tingling, painful numbness
It’s aggravating when your legs fall asleep from sitting in an uncomfortable position for too long. For several seconds that seem to stretch for eternity, your experience sharp tingling sensations that begin in your feet and spread to the rest of your legs, causing excruciating burning pain, anxiety, and severe numbness.
When these symptoms occur often, you may be suffering from chronic paresthesia, a condition that results from a temporary glitch in communication between your brain and nerve cells in your legs.
Paresthesia is not just limited to your legs and feet falling asleep; it can also occur in your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, and even your tongue!
Once you start flexing your legs (waking them up), the pain eventually decreases, as your brain receives confirmation of electrochemical impulses coming from your peripheral nerves.
Vitamin B12 and your nerves
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is an essential nutrient for many important biological functions, and one of the first clues that you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet is its impact on your peripheral nerves, the section of your nervous system that controls muscle coordination, reflexes, metabolism, and various organs.
Vitamin B12 benefits your neurons by maintaining myelin, a fatty substance that coats your individual nerve cells. The myelin sheath does double-duty by protecting your nervous system from harm while also enhancing intercellular communication between your neurons.
When there is a deterioration of myelin, resulting symptoms may include painful numbness, tingling in the extremities, and difficulty controlling arm and leg movements- all symptoms you may experience when your arms and legs keep “falling asleep.”
These symptoms may indicate peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage caused as a result of decreased myelin.
Illnesses that cause myelin corrosion (demyelination) include multiple sclerosis and pernicious anemia, a common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Treatment for paresthesia
It’s easy to find out if your legs and arms are falling asleep from vitamin B12 deficiency. Ask your doctor for a blood screening for vitamin B12 levels. A deficiency in vitamin B12 means that you will have to supplement with synthetic vitamin B12 until your stores return to normal.
However, oftentimes vitamin B12 blood tests are inaccurate; therefore, it’s important to recognize symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, and confide with your doctor.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Painful tingling in the arms and legs (falling asleep)
- Numbness in the arms and legs
- Electric shock-like sensations
- Sore, burning tongue
- Difficulty walking
- Slow reflexes
- Constant fatigue
- Vision problems
- Memory loss
- Brain fog
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
- Stomach pain
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