What is peripheral neuropathy?
This is a dysfunction or disease of peripheral nerves. It causes symptoms like numbness, weakness, pain or even paralysis. Onset is often in the feet or hands. The most commonly heard about cause is diabetes.
There are two variants of peripheral neuropathy. Mononeuropathy and polyneuropathy. Mono occurs when one specific part of the body is affected while poly affects various parts.
What is vitamin B12?
It is an important water-soluble nutrient, also known as cobalamin. Your body uses it to develop and maintain a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12 plays a role in healthy blood cells and helps to make DNA in the your body. It also plays roles in fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. As you can see, this vitamin has many roles.
Preventing the body from developing anemia, especially megaloblastic anemia, is another key role. Vitamin B12 comes from bacteria that animals eat. When you eat animal-based foods you get vitamin B12.
How is B12 related to neuropathy?
B12 is vital for the development of a healthy nervous system. The protective barrier around a nerve requires vitamin B12 in order to remain healthy. Damage caused by a deficiency may be permanent.
As of today there is not a cure for vitamin B12 neuropathy. However, there are some potential B12 neuropathy treatments that can help. Work with your doctor to ensure your body has and maintains a healthy vitamin B12 level. Use of supplements can be your key to success.
What is damaged?
When neuropathy occurs it is due to the break down of the myelin sheath. This is the outer layer of a nerve that protects it from damage. It allows the electrical impulses to travel throughout the body. Those impulses are what carry information from the nerve to the brain where the feeling is interpreted.
It is like the shell on an egg. The exterior is a protective barrier to a soft and fragile interior. When the sheath is damaged or missing a peripheral neuropathy occurs. You will feel numbness, tingling, pain or even paralysis. The result will depend on the degree of deficiency and level of damage caused.
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How does B12 help prevent neuropathy?
Vitamin B12 may stop the pain associated with neuropathy. In many cases it will also help to repair the myelin sheath. Unfortunately, this is not true for all vitamin B-12 neuropathy patients. Some are hereditary based and it is unlikely to find improvement.
Patients with Hereditary Neuropathy with Pressure Palsies (HNPP) are not able to regenerate the myelin sheath. At the time of this article there has not been a cure for HNPP. Researchers are working to find one for the future.
What to do now?
Maintaining a healthy B12 level before developing symptoms is best. When damage is prevented then it cannot become a permanent condition.
Increasing your dietary allowance of B-12 is a good first step. A well balanced diet along with supplements may be your key to success. When choosing a supplement always do your research. Do not waste your money on anything less than a high quality Vitamin B12 supplement.
If you suspect a severe deficiency talk to your doctor about testing. You may be a candidate for injections of the vitamin B12. These symptoms may indicate medical conditions that require care by a physician. When in doubt, talk with your doctor and reach an educated decision together.
Additional remedies for neuropathy.
Physicians have a series of options when treating a neuropathy patient. These may include pain meds, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications or pain relieving creams. Ideally, we all want to avoid any medications but there are times when that is the answer.
Recommended reading: 9 Health Benefits of Vitamin B12