What is vitamin B12?
B12 is an important vitamin that plays a role in the body’s production of red blood cells as well as nervous system & blood vessel function. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry eggs and diary.
A strict vegan diet, age and long term use of antacid drugs & metformin may increase the chances of becoming deficient in Vitamin B12. Additionally, some people are predisposed to B12 deficiency as certain conditions exist where the body does not have the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 (Shipton & Thachil, 2015).
How Vitamin B12 affects the foot:
Research suggests that Vitamin B12 deficiency causes reversible megaloblastic anemia and demyelinating disease (Stabler, 2013). Put simply this means the body is unable to produce red blood cells properly because they are too large to enter the bloodstream. Evidence also suggests that B12 deficiency can cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels, as well as oxidative stress, which combined can interrupt normal blood flow to the feet (Spence, 2016). Demyelinating disease refers to damage of the nerves in our body. A lack of B12 in the body can cause reversible damage to the myelin sheath that protects the nerves in our feet and legs, resulting in neurological symptoms (Ekabe et al., 2017).
Why this is important:
Reduced blood flow to the feet – If a Vitamin B12 deficiency is causing a reduction or interrupted blood supply to the feet, you may experience very cold feet without reprieve, changes in skin colour (feet may appear white or purple), development of chilblains, muscle cramping and numbness.
Damage to the nerves – If a lack of B12 in the body causes damage to the myelin sheath surrounding our nerves, the feet may experience numbness, pins and needles, reduced sensation and muscle weakness. It has also been shown to be the causative factor in many cases of pediatric neuropathy (Dobrozsi, Flood, Panepinto, Scott & Brandow, 2013).
How can we help?
Our team of Podiatrists at Prosper Health Group are professionally trained in assessing the foot and lower limb for any abnormal changes in blood flow and nerve activity. Vitamin B12 is but one of an extensive list of factors that can influence the blood flow and nerves to your feet. Our Podiatrists will be able to confidently assess your feet and analyse exactly what is causing your presenting lower limb complaint and how to treat/manage it.
Dobrozsi, S., Flood, V., Panepinto, J., Scott, J., & Brandow, A. (2013). Vitamin B12 deficiency: The great masquerader. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 61(4), 753-755. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24784
Ekabe, C., Kehbila, J., Abanda, M., Kadia, B., Sama, C., & Monekosso, G. (2017). Vitamin B12 deficiency neuropathy; a rare diagnosis in young adults: a case report. BMC Research Notes, 10(1). doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-2393-3
Shipton, M., & Thachil, J. (2015). Vitamin B12 deficiency – A 21st century perspective. Clinical Medicine, 15(2), 145-150. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.15-2-145
Spence, J. (2016). Metabolic vitamin B12 deficiency: a missed opportunity to prevent dementia and stroke. Nutrition Research, 36(2), 109-116. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.10.003
Stabler, S. (2013). Vitamin B12Deficiency. New England Journal Of Medicine, 368(2), 149-160. doi: 10.1056/nejmcp1113996