Vitamin b12: Is It an Essential in Treating Neuropathy?

Any functional problem related to nerves might sound scary. And certainly, it is! But in this modern era of medicine, standard treatments of neuropathy are there to rescue you.

These days supplements are considered to be of great help besides traditional cures. Different studies have shown a strong link between vitamin B-12 and neuropathy.

Now, a certain number of questions may arise related to this connection. One of those might be, ‘how much B12 is needed for neuropathy?’ The answer to this query is not specific and depends on various factors. An elaborate discussion might help you to understand the depth of this new discovery.

Continue reading this article to know how vitamin B12 can contribute to the cure of neuropathy.

How Much B12 Is Needed for Neuropathy?

Generally, it is seen that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause peripheral neuropathy. Hence, is used in treating it as well.

how-much-b12-is-needed-for-neuropathy

Treatment might include oral doses or B12 injections. And it will depend upon the cause of your deficiency. Causes might include:

  • Problem in the absorption of vitamin B12
  • Lack of B12 in the diet

Once you visit the doctor, he will decide your doses depending upon these facts.

However, here’s a standard vitamin b12 dosage for adults:

  • Administration of 1000mcg injections every day for 5 days
  • 1000mcg injections given once a week that is continued for five weeks
  • Dose is gradually decreased to 1000mcg, once a month. But, some of you might need to use it for a lifetime.

Though this is a standard regimen, it might not be applicable for every individual. So, consulting a doctor is a must before you start taking any supplement. The wrong dosage of supplement use can deteriorate your existing problem.

However, overall knowledge of neuropathy is very important to understand the entire mechanism. Don’t you want to relate the terms used by your physician? Surely you do! Hence, here’s an overview of neuropathy.

What Is Neuropathy?

Damage of one or more nerves causing muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain in the affected site is known as neuropathy. Most of the time neuropathies begin in the hands and feet. Then your other body parts may also be affected.

 Neuropathy is also called peripheral neuropathy. It is called so due to the involvement of the peripheral nervous system. Now, how does the nervous system works?

neuropathy

The peripheral nervous system involves all your nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. The brain and spinal cord together are called the central nervous system.

The central and peripheral nervous system works as a team in managing different information signals. The peripheral nervous system works as a track through which signals come and go from the central nervous system. In short, it serves as the control center.

 There are three types of neuropathy according to the number of nerves involved:

  • Polyneuropathy: involvement of many nerves.
  • Mononeuropathy: one nerve involved.
  • Multifocal neuropathy: affects a specific combination of nerves.

Causes of Neuropathy

Vitamins are important when it comes to nerve health. So, it’s ensured that a prominent lack of vitamin B12 may cause peripheral neuropathy. But this is not the only cause.

Let’s take a look at the other causes too:

Autoimmune disorders: Disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, and lupus are some causes of neuropathy.

Infections: Infections like syphilis, hepatitis C, leprosy, shingles, Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chickenpox, and West Nile virus might also be responsible for neuropathy.

Vascular disorders: A decrease in the flow of blood can be a reason for neuropathy. This can occur due to blood clots, inflammation, or any disorder of blood vessels. Slowed blood flow causes a lack of oxygen in the nerve cells. It may finally result in cell death. Diabetes, vasculitis, and habits like smoking can cause vascular disorders.

Diabetes: Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common neuropathies among all others. It causes small fiber neuropathy and involves burning pain in the feet and hands.

Trauma: Peripheral neuropathy can also be caused by injuries subsequent to car accidents or falls. Narrowing of the nerve passage may also serve as a reason for neuropathy.

Medicines: A few anti-seizure meds, HIV drugs, and antibiotics amongst others can be the reason for your neuropathy. Certain therapies, including radiation and chemotherapy for malignancy, can harm fringe nerves.

Toxic substances: Exposure to heavy metals (counting mercury and lead) and chemicals from industries, particularly solvents, can likewise influence nerve function.

Hereditary disorders: The most common inherited neuropathy is Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. CMT results in delicacy in the muscles of the lower leg and foot. Likewise, influence the muscles in the hands. Fabry disease, metachromatic leukodystrophy, and Familial amyloidosis are different instances of acquired problems that may cause neuropathy.

Alcoholism: Alcohol causes vitamin deficiency. This ultimately results in neuropathy.

Other diseases: Liver disease, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and tissue disorders are other certain reasons behind neuropathy.

Neuropathy Symptoms

Having an idea about the symptoms of neuropathy will help you to identify your problem in an early stage. But it may vary according to the location and type of nerves associated.

Three types of nerves named autonomic, sensory, and motor nerves are generally associated with neuropathy.

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are narrated below:

  • Stabbing, burning, or sharp pain.
  • Lack of co-ordination.
  • Tingling mainly in the feet and hands.
  • Abnormality in the heart rate. Low pressure is noticed that results in lightheadedness and dizziness.
  • Sensational changes. Not being able to feel touch, pressure, or pain.
  • Muscle spasms and cramps.
  • Increment of sensitivity.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Bloating, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Problems regarding sexual function.

All of the above symptoms may not appear simultaneously. But you must get concerned in case you notice any sort of unusual numbness or weakness. Further damage to your nerves can be prevented by an early check-up.

Neuropathy Diagnosis

Diagnosis of neuropathy is done step by step by the doctor. Here’s a brief of it:

History taking: History is taken regarding your symptoms, past medications, trauma, diseases along exposure to toxic stuff.

Physical examination: This is a part of the routine checkup while you visit the doctor.

Neurological examination: Here, the doctor checks your muscle tone, balance, reflexes, and sensation capacity.

  • Blood tests: to see if there’s any electrolyte imbalances, vitamin or mineral imbalances, antibodies of the certain viruses, thyroid problems, or presence of toxic substances.
  • Imaging tests: MRI to detect the presence of any nerve compression or tumor.
  • Electrodiagnostic assessment (EDX): This may include NCS (nerve conduction study), and EMG (Needle electromyography).
  • Genetic testing
  • Tissue biopsies

Neuropathy Treatment

The objective of the treatment is to deal with the condition behind your neuropathy and to diminish manifestations. Here are certain treatments that your doctor may prescribe:

Vitamin B12 Injections

If you are suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency, then having a B12 supplement is very important.

How much vitamin B12 is needed for neuropathy is already mentioned above. But how does a supplement helps in neuropathy? Here’s your answer:

As you know B12 is a fundamental need in keeping up with proper nerve wellbeing. So, continuous administration of B12 infusions can act against neuropathy brought about by certain conditions.

vitamin-b12-injection

B12 has been observed to be especially useful in diminishing agony resulting from nerve damage. And it also reduces manifestations in patients with diabetes.

Sometimes, the meds endorsed to preserve a perfect glucose level can likewise add to B-12 inadequacies. Hence, administering vitamin B12 aids nerve damage repair, along with decreasing vitamin inadequacy.

Generally, B-12 infusions are preferred over oral ones. The cause behind this is that injections are absorbed easily by your body. Especially, effective in the case of Celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome as both of them interfere with the body’s absorption capacity. However, if oral medication is needed, vitamin b12 neuropathy dosage will be prescribed by the doctor.

There is a protective layer surrounding the nerves called the myelin sheath. B12 is known to have contributed to its development as well as in maintaining it. So, if vitamin deficiency develops, this layer has a chance of being harmed.

Regulating normal B12 infusions might prove helpful in myelin sheath regeneration and secure the nerves. This is mainly significant in the event that you have discovered you are vulnerable to neuropathy.

Meds

Medicines prescribed to manage the signs and symptoms of neuropathy are narrated below:

Pain killers: Pain relievers, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, can ease mild manifestations. High-dose prescribed medicines are needed for a more serious condition.

Drugs having opioids: Some examples include oxycodone (Roxicodone, Oxycontin), and tramadol ( Ultram, others). These drugs can develop a habit, reliance, and addiction. Hence, these medications are mostly avoided by the doctors until the rest of the treatments fail. But if any doctor thinks it to be necessary, he might recommend them.

Anti-epileptic drugs: Meds like pregabalin (Lyrica) and gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, and Horizant) may alleviate nerve torment. Adverse effects can incorporate tiredness and lightheadedness.

Local cream: Capsaicin cream has a compound that is found in hot peppers. It causes mild upgrades in neuropathy manifestations. You may develop a burning sensation in the skin after applying the cream. Yet this typically reduces over the long haul. Certain individuals may not be able to endure it.

Applying Lidocaine patches on your skin may also offer relief from discomfort. Adverse effects may incorporate numbness at the place of application.

Antidepressants: Some tricyclic antidepressants, like Nortriptyline, Amitriptyline, and doxepin are said to assist with diminishing torment. It meddles with chemical processes in the spinal cord and encephalon that make you feel torment.

Duloxetine – the norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitor may facilitate the aggravation of neuropathy brought about by diabetes.

Adverse effects of antidepressants might incorporate drowsiness, vomiting tendency, lightheadedness, constipation, appetite change, and weight gain.

Therapies

Different treatments and methodology may assist with facilitating the signs and indications of fringe neuropathy.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Incitement (TENS)

Here, electrodes are set on the skin close to the damaged nerve. They convey a delicate electric flow at different frequencies. The main goal of this treatment is to prevent the pain signals from reaching your brain.

Generally, TENS is applied for 30 minutes. But the time is determined by the doctor according to the requirement of the patient.

However, it may not work for everyone.

Plasma Exchange and Intravenous Immune Globulin

These methods assist with suppressing the activity of the immune system. So, may help individuals with few inflammatory conditions.

plasm-exchange

This process includes eliminating your blood, along with eliminating antibodies and different proteins from the blood. Then the blood is returned to your body. In this therapy high level of protein is infused in the body that does the work of antibodies.

Surgery: If the culprit behind your pain is due to tumor pressure on nerves, then you might need surgery.

Other Treatments

  • Herbal products
  • Acupuncture
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Meditation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Massage

Other than these, sometimes mechanical aids help in relieving the pain. They include special shoes, braces, and splints. These instruments help in keeping the proper alignment of the nerves along with reducing the pain.

Personal Precautions

Living a healthy life is also a part of the treatment. You need to abstain from things that may exaggerate your nerve damage.

Here are some healthy living habits:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Perform exercise to improve muscle strength.
  • Maintain optimum weight.

Taking treatment for the symptoms of neuropathy is very essential for an individual. This will help you to get rid of your pain and minimize the symptoms.

Prevention

Prevention is better than cure. So, by treating your ongoing medical problems, you can decrease the risk of neuropathy. Below are some tips for neuropathy prevention:

  • Try to maintain a wholesome lifestyle.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Keep your blood sugar level under control. Diabetes increases the risk of neuropathy.
  • Take a look at your feet every day.
  • Keep your floors free from any kind of sharp things so that you don’t hurt yourself.

Conclusion

Vitamin B12 is very essential for your body. As you can see it even plays role in such an important disease. So, if you have got neuropathy, it’s very important to know how much vitamin B12 is needed for neuropathy.

Finding the correct cause behind your neuropathy and treating it well should be on your priority list. Leaving it untreated may make your condition worse day by day.

FAQs

How long does it take for B12 to help neuropathy?

Improvement of neuropathy depends upon the severity of your condition. Generally, the cure starts from the first week. And it takes a time span varying from 6 weeks to 3 months for complete recovery.

How much B-12 should you take a day?

Recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for vitamin B12 depending on the age. They are as follows:

  • 14 years and above: 2.4 mcg
  • 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
  • 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • 0-6 months: 0.4 mcg

Special cases:

  • Pregnancy: 2.6 mcg
  • During lactation: 2.8 mcg

Can B12 repair nerve damage?

Vitamin B12 cannot solely repair nerve damage. It mainly contributes to increasing the functional ability of the nerve. It does so by hindering the neuron injury resulting from ER stress. And thus amplifies the nerve repair process.

Who is generally affected by neuropathy?

Neuropathy is mostly associated with other diseases. It occurs as a complication. Here are three categories of people who are at risk of developing neuropathy:

  • 30% of individuals having HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
  • 60% to 70% of individuals suffering from diabetes.
  • 30% to 40% of individuals receiving chemotherapy as a treatment of cancer.

Zahin Ibnat

I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. Along the path of my life, medical science has always entranced and enticed me through it's continuous advancement. I believe being health conscious and having a wholesome lifestyle should be our utmost priority. Being a medical student, I like to share my opinions and views on different aspects of medical science in order to enlighten people with knowledge and to motivate them to become aware of their own health condition. We all need to remember that health comes first! So, I hope that my work will help out and benefit people and assist them to remain hale and hearty in their daily life. Zahin Ibnat MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College, Bangladesh

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