Neuropathy and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

General disturbances in the normal functioning of the peripheral nerves are known as neuropathy. There are many neurological manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency, namely, alcoholic neuropathy (resulting from extended alcoholism), peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy (resulting from diabetes), and optic neuropathy, which is a rare. Neuropathy treatment always focuses on addressing the root cause, such as alcoholism or diabetes. Regular exercise helps to provide stability to the muscles.

Additionally, there is a common link between nutrition and neuropathy. Since vitamin B12 supports the sheathing that coats the nerve cells, people with vitamin B12 deficiency often suffer from peripheral neuropathy. In order to fight this, foods that are high in vitamin B12 such as meat, fish, and eggs need to be consumed. Fortified cereals are also good for vegetarian patients.

Since Vitamin B12 is not created by the body itself, one has to consume foods-rich in B12 in order to avert vitamin B12 deficiency. Moreover, although vitamin B12 can be stored in the body, it is not easily absorbed by the body, and this inability further leads to vitamin B12 deficiency, which, in turn, leads to peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy results in burning, tingling, shooting pain, and numbness in the legs, feet, and hands. It lessens the ability of the body to sense pain, temperature, touch, and vibration. The occurrence of peripheral neuropathy increases with age and vitamin B deficiency. There is also a link between vitamin B12 and muscle cramps. Low levels of vitamin B12 lead to muscle weakness and cramps.

Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include the following:

  • A Strict Vegetarian Diet: Animal-based foods are the only recognized source of vitamin B12 and lack of that in a vegetarian diet results in vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Reduced Ability of Absorption of B12: Diseases like autoimmune disorders, pancreatic diseases, HIV infection, malabsorption syndromes, and Crohn’s disease reduce the stomach acids that aid in the absorption of B12, resulting in deficiency.  

B12 Neuropathy Recovery

B12 neuropathy recovery can be obtained by increasing the intake of vitamin B12 in one’s diet; this can be done by adding red meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy products to one’s daily meals. Vitamin B12 supplements are also a good option, as are B12 injections and oral B12 tables, which are usually prescribed for B12 neuropathy recovery.

Since vitamin B12 deficiency results in nerve damage, patients often suffer from an unsteady walk, muscle spasms, shaky movements, and muscle weakness. Some of the home remedies for nervous weaknesses include eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Good sources of vitamin E such as breakfast cereals, whole grain, vegetables, and nuts are also good for neuropathy treatment in the case of vitamin B12 deficiency. Lean protein sources such as skinless white meat poultry, legumes, tofu, fish, low fat yogurt also helps to treat deficiency of vitamin B12 and neuropathy.

For diabetes, it is important to be careful of too much fruit sugar. A serving of half a banana, apples, and non-starchy vegetables such as greens and asparagus are effective for treating diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy is a common side effect of diabetes and one of the prime causes for diabetic neuropathy is vitamin B12 deficiency. Since peripheral nerves have the ability to regenerate, symptoms can be controlled provided the nerve cell has not been killed. Eliminating the cause help to prevent further damage. If the cause is due to imbalanced diet, intravenous injections of vitamin B12 along with dietary changes are often prescribed by the physicians to treat the problem. Pain can be reduced with prescribed medications such as anticonvulsants and tri cyclic antidepressants.

At present, there is no medical treatment for inherited peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy treatment and reversal of vitamin B12 deficiency can be achieved by treating the underlying problems followed by symptomatic treatment.

Since the neuropathy is almost irreversible in most cases, the treatment mainly focuses on preventing further progression. Neuropathy treatment includes lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol, eating a balanced diet, correcting vitamin deficiencies, maintaining optimum weight, and reducing stress, etc.

In order to meet the requirement of B12, intake of a wide variety of animal products is the best way. However, for vegans, multivitamins, B12 injections, B12 nasal gels, and sublingual forms are prescribed. The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) depends on the age, gender and other factors such as pregnancy and illness.