Poor Nutrition and Neuropathy in Jacksonville
Every time you pet the soft fur on a kitten, yank your hand back from a hot pan or grip a pen to sign your name you can thank your peripheral nervous system. These are the nerves throughout your body that allow you to feel and move.
Things that can harm your peripheral nervous system include:
- Genetic conditions
- Nutritional deficiencies
The last item on that list surprises many of our patients here at Advanced Medical Centers in Jacksonville, Florida. Malnutrition isn’t something most people think of as a modern-day problem, but last year alone more than 35 million Americans (including 10 million children) struggled with hunger.
Yet, insufficient food isn’t the only cause of malnutrition. People who are overweight and obese are often malnourished, as are those who believe they are eating healthy diets but are missing key micronutrients. Complications include serious health problems like liver and pancreas disease, irritable bowel disease, gastritis, and, yes, nerve damage.
To make nerve cells, DNA, and red blood cells, your body needs vitamin B12. But it doesn’t make its own, so you have to get it from foods or supplements (2.4 mcg daily).
Since vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products like poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy, vegetarians and vegans may not get enough if they don’t take supplements.
Some medical conditions and medications can interfere with your ability to absorb vitamin B12, so even if you eat enough of this micronutrient your body may not use it properly.
Signs of vitamin B12-related neuropathy typically begin with numb hands and feet.
Nuts, wheat, grains, and seafood supply most people with enough copper (about 900 mcg per day) to perform important oxidative functions in their body, but you need gastric acid to process dietary copper.
That’s why people who’ve had gastric surgery may have trouble solubilizing copper. Taking zinc supplements can also alter your absorption of copper.
Copper deficiency can damage nerves in your lower extremities, causing gait abnormalities, knee jerks, and bladder dysfunction.
Most people don’t have to worry about vitamin B6 as it’s readily available in a variety of foods. But too much or too little vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage.
The recommended daily allowance of B6 falls between 1 mg and 100 mg daily. Unfortunately, some medications interfere with this vitamin.
If you’re pregnant, lactating, or an alcoholic, you may also suffer from vitamin B6 deficiency, which typically causes numbness or burning pain sensations in the feet that progress up the legs and eventually the hands.
If you eat meat, nuts, vegetable oils, and grains, you likely get enough vitamin E (about 15 mg a day). Vitamin E is an antioxidant that gobbles up free radicals in your body, so you want this nutrient on your team.
But if your body has trouble absorbing it (as is the case with cystic fibrosis) or you have fat malabsorption problems, you could end up with neuropathy issues such as ataxia (slurred speech and lack of coordination), loss of proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of your body), loss of vibration sensation, and muscle weakness.
Thiamine deficiency, also known as beriberi, occurs when you don’t get about 1 mg each day in your diet, whether from plants or animal products. If you’re an athlete or you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or fighting certain cancers or illnesses, you may need a bit more.
Although thiamine deficiency is rare in industrialized countries, we mention it because it stems from some common conditions, such as excessive vomiting, eating disorders, AIDS, alcohol abuse, and weight-loss surgery.
Neurological signs of not getting enough thiamine include irritability, fatigue, numb toes, and muscle cramps.
Treating neuropathy in Jacksonville
If poor nutrition has led to your nerve pain, our team of experts can help you get much-needed relief from your symptoms, correct your nutritional deficiencies, and may even be able to help restore your damaged nerves.
After we get your diet back on track, we treat your symptoms with a variety of approaches depending on your unique needs. Often, chiropractic spinal manipulation can relieve compression on nerves and physical therapy can strengthen your musculoskeletal system to support your nervous system.
If you have damaged nerves, regenerative medicine may be able to repair the tissues and restore full function. We use platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy to introduce powerful, all-natural healing properties into your tissues to regenerate them and promote cell growth in your nerves.
If you suspect you’re suffering from nutrition-related neuropathy, call the nearest office.