Friday, 28 November 2008

Vitamin B and Nerve Health

I've been suffering a little bit recently with some low back pain and some transient parasthesia in my hands and feet, so thought I'd visit my local osteopath for a treatment and some advice.

Numerous tests and treatments later I'm feeling much more loose and relaxed but the pins and needles are still a bit of a mystery so he's recommended taking some B vitamins to improve the health of my nerves. I've started taking B Complex every day now but have done a little bit of research into exactly what I'm taking. The 2 B Vitamins of particular interest are B12 (Cyanocobalamin) and B6 (Pyridoxine).

B12 is necessary for processing carbohydrates, proteins and fats is found in all the blood cells. It is also essential for the maintenance of the nerve sheaths. It is stored in the liver and is absorbed through the small intestine in normal function but deficiency can occur when the body is unable to absorb the vitamin - a condition called pernicious anaemia. This is characterised by muscle weakness, peripheral neuropathy, fatigue, digestive abnormalities such as diarrhoea, constipation, jaundice and many other symptoms.

B12 is found in liver, meat, egg yolk, poultry and milk.

B6, also known as pyridoxal phosphate or pyridoxamine is found in liver, organ meats, brown rice, fish, butter, whole grain cereals, soy beans and many other foods. Again it is required to breakdown carbohydrate, fats and proteins but is also used for erythropoesis (red blood cell production). Deficiency is rare due to the abundance of the vitamin in various foods but can be found in alcoholics and presents itself with skin disorders, neuropathy, confusion, poor coordination and insomnia.

From the sounds of this, B12 deficiency sounds like a more likely diagnosis, so I'll keep taking the vitamins and see what happens... watch this space!

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