Using vitamins for peripheral neuropathy treatment may be beneficial in some instances.
If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, you’re probably familiar with the uncomfortable tingling of the feet and numbness so common with this condition.
Neuropathies can involve a single nerve – a common example is carpal tunnel syndrome where the median nerve in the arm is damaged – or multiple nerves.
A frequent example of a neuropathy involving multiple nerves is diabetic peripheral neuropathy which not only involves tingling of the feet but can progress to neuropathic foot pain and muscle weakness.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
Although diabetes is a common cause of peripheral nerve and tingling of the feet, it’s not the only one.
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by injury, the effects of certain medications, exposure to heavy metals and other toxins, alcoholism, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and nutritional deficiencies – particularly deficiency of the B vitamins. In some cases, a cause for peripheral neuropathy can’t be found.
Treating people with peripheral neuropathy
Treatment for people with peripheral neuropathy involves treating the underlying cause if it can be found.
For diabetics, getting blood sugars under control can help reduce tingling of the feet and neuropathic foot pain.
Eliminating toxins, alcohol, and any medications that might be contributing to the problem also helps those with peripheral neuropathy.
In cases that are resistant to treatment, there are two types of vitamins that may help to relieve some of the neuropathic foot pain and tingling of the feet that occur with this condition.
Can B vitamins help people with peripheral neuropathy?
The first group of vitamins that may help people with peripheral neuropathy symptoms are the B group of vitamins. One common cause of peripheral neuropathy is deficiency of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12.
Anyone who suffers from tingling of the feet or neuropathic foot pain should have a B12 and folate level checked. If a B12 deficiency isn’t treated in a timely manner, the nerve damage can be permanent.
Even people with borderline B12 levels who have peripheral neuropathy symptoms may benefit from B12 supplementation.
A common cause of peripheral neuropathy in alcoholics is a deficiency in the B vitamin known as thiamine or B1.
Vitamin B6 is also important for healthy nerve function and deficiency in it can cause tingling of the feet and neuropathic foot pain.
It’s not completely clear whether taking a supplemental B complex vitamins helps with peripheral neuropathy symptoms in the absence of a deficiency; but there’s some limited evidence that it does. Taking a B complex vitamin is generally safe, so it may be worth a four week trial under the care of a doctor to see if the symptoms improve.
Vitamin E for tingling of the feet?
The other vitamin that may be helpful for people with peripheral neuropathy is vitamin E, although there’s less evidence that it works than with the B vitamins.
Vitamin E deficiency can cause peripheral neuropathy, but a deficiency is uncommon except in cases of intestinal malabsorption problems or malnutrition.
If you suffer from either of these two problems, a lack of vitamin E could be contributing to your symptoms.
The bottom line?
Nutritional deficiencies can cause tingling of the feet and neuropathic foot pain. If you have symptoms of a peripheral neuropathy, it’s important to check B12 and folate levels to make sure there isn’t a deficiency.
For some people a short trial of B complex vitamins and vitamin E may be beneficial, but should only be done under the care of a doctor. For diabetics, getting blood sugars under control can also be helpful.