Vitamin B12 is perhaps the most important vitamin for nerve health.
When we talk about eating too much sugar, the conversation usually revolves around excessive energy intake, empty calories, blood glucose and insulin spikes, or increased risk of chronic diseases (like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease). But, there’s actually another huge problem that gets less airtime in the sugar discussion: micronutrient deficiencies!
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Chromium is a trace mineral involved in macronutrient metabolism and blood sugar control, and although we only need small amounts of it to be healthy, a high sugar intake can increase the likelihood of deficiency. Consuming excessive amounts of simple sugars causes more chromium to be excreted in the urine (in one study, eating a diet of 35% simple sugars increased chromium excretion from 10% at baseline to 300%). The effect has been pinpointed to the insulinogenic properties of refined sugars, and the impact of elevated insulin on chromium loss.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Deficiency
Vitamin B2, or Riboflavin, is important for nerve health primarily because of what it does to help facilitate our bodies’ use of other important B vitamins. Riboflavin helps change the chemical makeup of other B vitamins so that they can be used by the body. According to researchers at Oregon State University, “Riboflavin deficiency can affect multiple pathways in the metabolism of vitamin B6, folate, niacin, and iron.” Without riboflavin, these other vitamins are rendered useless.
Recommended daily allowance of riboflavin is at least 1.3 mg/day.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Deficiency of B6 can cause nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms may include burning, shooting and tingling pain in your arms, legs, hands and feet. Some describe it as a “pins and needles” feeling.
The nerve damage may also result in clumsiness, balance problems and difficulty walking. Additionally, continually taking too much of the inactive form of B6 (pyridoxine HCl) from supplements can also cause neuropathy. This may happen because large amounts of inactive B6 can compete with and block the active PLP form of B6 in your body.
Nerve problems from B6 deficiency are reversible with adequate B6 intake.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is perhaps the most important vitamin for nerve health. It supports the health and function of nerves in various ways, one of which is by maintaining the health of the myelin sheath – the protective covering around our nerves. It also helps make DNA – the genetic makeup of our cells!
Deficiencies in vitamin B12 have been linked to neuropathy. If our bodies do not get enough of it, the coating that protects our nerves can begin to deteriorate – exposing the nerves and increasing the chance of pain. Besides weakness, numbness, and tingling – another serious symptom of b12 deficiency is the impairment of brain function. Proper supplementation of b12 is critical to reversing this and other effects of deficiency.
Whether you suffer from Neuropathy or not, looking out for the health of your nerves through proper nutrition and supplementation should not be ignored. For those currently suffering from the crippling effects of nerve pain, working with a doctor to test for nutritional deficiencies that may lead to more effective treatments and a possible reversing of the damage.
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