Here’s How Vitamin B-12 Can Help with Neuropathy

If you have ever suffered from the pain associated with neuropathy, you may understand the desire to alleviate it however possible. In addition to formal neuropathy treatment, many people use a variety of vitamins and supplements to help manage the symptoms of neuropathy. One of the most commonly cited vitamins for this purpose is vitamin B-12, which can be found in many foods or in supplement form. To understand how vitamin B-12 can help patients with neuropathy and the best ways to use supplements as part of your treatment plan, read on.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

To begin, the condition in question is peripheral neuropathy, a dysfunction of the peripheral nerves. Most commonly, this leads to numbness, tingling, weakness, pain, or even paralysis that begins in the hands or feet and can spread throughout the body. Either a single body part can be affected or multiple can exhibit symptoms.

Most commonly, peripheral neuropathy occurs as a result of diabetes, though injuries and other conditions can also bring it on in patients. It is also a side effect of some chemotherapy treatments.

What Is Vitamin B-12?

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble nutrient that your body relies on to develop and maintain a healthy nervous system. Adequate amounts of vitamin B-12 help your blood cells to stay healthy and your body to create DNA as necessary, as well as regulating fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. B-12 can also help prevent anemia from developing, particularly megaloblastic anemia.

Vitamin B-12 is found in bacteria that many animals eat, therefore we usually get it by consuming animal-based foods like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Some foods like breakfast cereal can also be fortified with B-12 as a non-animal source.

B-12 is a part of the larger group of B vitamins, including B-1 and B-6, which all help to support nervous system function.

What Does B-12 Do for Neuropathy?

The protective barrier that is formed around a nerve requires vitamin B-12 to remain healthy and functional, making the vitamin important for a functioning nervous system. A deficiency in B-12 for long enough can lead to damage that isn’t reversible, with symptoms like neuropathy occurring. While there is no known cure for B-12 neuropathy, B-12 can be used as a part of neuropathy treatment to help ensure you maintain nerve function.

Neuropathy often occurs because of a breakdown of the myelin sheath, the outer layer of nerves that protects them from damage and allows electrical impulses to travel throughout the body properly. The body relies on this ability to communicate feelings to the brain. You can think of the myelin sheath like an eggshell- when it is damaged, the fragile insides are left vulnerable. This is what your exposed nerve is like, leading to numbness, tingling, pain, or even paralysis when neuropathy occurs. The extent of the damage to the protective shell determines how severe these symptoms are.

In many cases, supplementing with vitamin B-12 can reduce the pain associated with neuropathy. More rarely, it can help repair the myelin sheath, depending on the cause of the neuropathy. However, B-12’s ability to speed up tissue regeneration and improve nerve function can be helpful for some. Rather than relying on B-12 as a neuropathy treatment, many people use it as a preventative measure to avoid damage that may become permanent.

Including B-12 in Your Neuropathy Treatment

You should always speak with your doctor about any supplements you are looking to use in conjunction with your neuropathy treatment, including B-12. They can help you determine if a pill-based supplement is best for you, or if you are able to increase your B-12 through food alone. If there is a risk of a severe deficiency, your doctor can also perform testing on your B-12 levels to determine this. Some people are candidates for vitamin B-12 injections to raise levels properly.

In addition to B-12, you may also look at using other B vitamins as a part of your neuropathy treatment. B-1 can help to reduce pain and inflammation levels, as well as preventing cellular damage. B-6 is known to help maintain the coverings on nerve endings, though this should be taken sparingly to avoid doses that actually lead to more nerve damage. Furthermore, your doctor might give you a list of foods you should avoid if you have neuropathy.

If you have questions about neuropathy and B-12, contact Fox Integrated Health today to speak with our experts and begin creating a holistic neuropathy treatment plan.