Vitamin B12, Health, and Your Neuropathy

B12 deficiency may cause, or contribute to, the development of peripheral neuropathy.

Vitamin B12 is a key nutrient which, when missing, contributes to, and may actually create a number of different diseases.

Fotolia 23644588 XS 200x300 Vitamin B12, Health, and Your NeuropathyNot the least of which is causing, or contributing to, the development of peripheral neuropathy.

The reason for this is that vitamin B12 is absolutely essential for the normal function of every cell in the brain and nervous system.

Damage to the nervous system caused by B12 deficiency can actually be permanent and irreversible.

Like so many of the other nutrients we’ve spoken about already, vitamin B12 is also essential for energy production and cellular repair.

B12 is manufactured by bacteria and then ingested by animals. In animals, as well as humans, it undergoes conversion to one or more active forms.

In the autoimmune disease pernicious anemia, a lack of intrinsic factor needed for normal absorption of B12 in the small bowel leads the development of vitamin B12 deficiency—and, possibly, also the diseases that that can cause.

Deficiency of vitamin B12 is also one of the more common deficiencies we see in private practice. When we check with laboratory studies, many adults have inadequate levels.

Signs and symptoms of low B12 levels are very common, and are often passed on as simple fatigue or aging. These symptoms include low energy, fatigue, depression, and memory changes. B12 deficiency in the outpatient setting is probably second only to vitamin D.

Low B12 levels can be due to a combination of diet and a number of different factors. Normal aging is one of these factors; B12 deficiency is much more common in adults over 50.

Some other factors include chronic use of medications that affect the lining of the GI tract, bowel diseases, and, actually, many prescription medications.

One of the most common reasons for vitamin B12 deficiency in diabetics is the prescription drug metformin.

Like all the key nutrients, it is most important to clearly identify, then attempt to correct a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Eliminating correctable underlying causes such as poor dietary habits and unnecessary drug use are two of the most common ones that I see in my practice—and are two of the easiest fixes.

High dosages of oral supplementation under supervision and/or injection of vitamin B12 may be necessary to correct low levels and frank deficiencies.

Since the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency can be permanent, is very important that you and your doctors take this nutrient and its deficiency very seriously.

This is especially true if you suffer from neuropathy or any neurologic disorder.

So don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I still recommend all adults should routinely have vitamin B12, vitamin D, and folic acid levels checked at every annual physical examination, and more often once supplementation has begun.|

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