B vitamins are perhaps the most important class of vitamins in terms of nerve health. Of particular benefit are vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12 – all of which are essential for proper nerve function. For those suffering from nerve pain related to neuropathy, getting these vitamins through diet and daily supplements can be an important step in the slowing the progression of nerve damage and reducing many of the painful symptoms. Here are five ways B vitamins maintain and improve nerve health:
1. Protect the Myelin Sheath
The myelin sheath is a protective coating around the nerves that helps maintain the integrity of the nerve and the electrical signals transmitted through them. Vitamin B12 is a key vitamin for supporting the health of this protective coating. If the myelin sheath is damaged, vitamin B12 helps rebuild and repair the coating.
2. Supports Nerve Cell Growth & Regeneration
The B vitamins support the growth and regeneration of nerve cells. According to a study published in the Journal of Neurological Science, methyl-B12 increases protein synthesis and supports the regeneration of damaged nerve cells when taken in high doses. For anyone suffering the painful symptoms of nerve damage, vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for preventing further damage and promoting the regeneration of damaged nerves.
3. Fuels the Nervous System
One of the primary functions of the B vitamins is to convert carbohydrates into fuel to be used by the various systems within the body, including the central nervous system. Benfotiamine, a more bio-available form of vitamin B1, is particularly effective at carrying much needed energy and nutrients throughout the body. It has been shown to be as much as 25 times more effective at absorbing into cellular tissue than the more common form of B1 – known as thiamine.
4. Supports Production of Neurotransmitters
Vitamin B6* plays an important role in the production of 5 different neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters transmit various electrical signals and are responsible for important chemical reactions throughout the body. The neurotransmitter serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood and sleep.
5. Maintain Normal Blood Sugar
The B vitamins help the body maintain normal blood sugar levels by converting carbohydrates to glucose when glucose levels begin to drop. The number one cause of Peripheral Neuropathy is diabetes. A lack of control on glucose levels often results in the nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. For those suffering from diabetic induced neuropathy, blood glucose control is recommended as the most effective treatment for slowing and possibly even reversing the progression of neuropathy.
Getting the right vitamins and nutrients for nerve health should be a key component of your fight against nerve pain. We recommend incorporating as many foods as possible with these vitamins into your diet, but also supplementing your dietary intake with vitamin B supplements. What role have B vitamins played in your fight against nerve pain?
* Taking large doses (in excess of 100mg/day for adults) of vitamin B6 for an extended period of time (usually a year or more) can actually have an adverse effect on your nerves. Make sure you’re getting at least the recommended dietary intake of 1.3 mg per day. We recommend around 4-8mg per day for adults.