Vitamin B12 deficiencies are well-known for causing peripheral neuropathy, but that’s not the only vitamin important for nerve health. If you’re worried about neuropathy or may be lacking in vitamins, it’s time to consult with the neuropathy experts at Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center in Plano, Texas.
They provide comprehensive care, including running tests to see if low vitamin levels may factor into your nerve damage. Here’s what you need to know about the link between vitamins B and D and neuropathy.
How B vitamins prevent neuropathy
Three of the B vitamins — B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin) — are crucial for keeping your nerves healthy and preventing neuropathy (nerve damage).
Here’s how they protect your nerves:
Vitamin B1 maintains the membrane that surrounds and protects nerve cells. It also supports myelin production, the substance that creates a protective sheath around the nerve’s long tail (axon).
While these roles are essential, B1 has another job: It’s vital for providing the constant supply of cellular energy your nerves need to function.
Vitamin B6 protects your nerves by regulating neurotransmitters that affect nerve function. A deficiency of B6 can cause severe damage to your peripheral nerves and may contribute to premature nerve aging.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most crucial for protecting your nerves. In fact, a B12 deficiency directly causes peripheral neuropathy and damages the nerves in your spinal cord and brain.
B12 promotes the regeneration of damaged nerves and is actively involved in the DNA synthesis of myelin. The myelin sheath insulates nerves and increases the speed of their electrical impulses. Without an intact sheath, the nerves can’t function, and neuropathy develops.
Role of vitamin D in nerve health
Vitamin D prevents nerve degeneration by protecting neurons (nerve cells) from toxins. It also has a role in diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage caused by high blood sugar, is the most common type of neuropathy.
Vitamin D contributes to insulin resistance and the progression of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, many people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are low in vitamin D, and this deficiency increases their risk of developing neuropathy.
Studies show that treating a vitamin D deficiency can reduce the pain caused by peripheral neuropathy. In some cases, eliminating the deficiency may improve insulin sensitivity and help lower your blood sugar.
Risk factors for deficiencies in vitamins B12 and D
Most people get enough B1 and B6 in their diet, but many have a deficiency in vitamins B12 and D or are at risk of a deficiency. Here’s why:
Vitamin B12 primarily comes from meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy products. If you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, you’re at risk for a deficiency.
You have a higher risk as you age because your body doesn’t absorb vitamin B12 as efficiently. Pernicious anemia and gastrointestinal disorders also limit your body’s ability to use the vitamin B12 you consume.
Your body naturally produces vitamin D from sunlight. Otherwise, the only good food sources include fatty fish (trout, salmon, and tuna), fish liver oil, and fortified foods like milk, cereal, and orange juice. You can also get a small amount from egg yolks.
Other risk factors for a vitamin D deficiency include:
- Limited sun exposure
- Diligent sunscreen use (as recommended to prevent skin cancer)
- Age (your body produces less vitamin D as you get older)
- Conditions limiting fat absorption (celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
- Obesity (fat cells store vitamin D, lowering its levels in your blood)
- Gastric bypass surgery (affect vitamin absorption)
If you have neuropathy symptoms — a tingling or numbness in your feet or hand and burning or stabbing pain — don’t wait to connect with the compassionate team at Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center by calling the office or requesting an appointment online today.