The vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are essential for nerve health. These vitamins can help with the healing of nerve damage and relieve nerve damage symptoms like pamamanhid (numbness) and tusok-tusok (tingling)—this is why they are called ‘neurotropic’ vitamins.
Each of the B vitamins has its own special role in nerve health, but they also work in synergy together—like a close-knit team—to repair damaged nerves and keep the nervous system healthy and functioning. Research suggests that—because each of the B vitamins has its own special part to play in nerve health—taking a complex of B vitamins can be even more beneficial than taking an individual supplement.
Vitamin B1: The Nerve Energizer
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps keep your nervous system healthy. Nerves use a lot of energy, but they can’t store it so they need a constant supply. Vitamin B1 has a key role in converting carbohydrates into the energy that nerve cells need in order to function properly and stay healthy.
Vitamin B6: The Nerve Signal Transmitter
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is instrumental in making sure your nerve fibers are able to transmit signals effectively. Vitamin B6 has an important part to play in nerve health, by helping your body to produce vital neurotransmitters—these are the chemical messengers that relay messages from your brain to cells all around the body.
Vitamin B12: The Nerve Regenerator
Vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) is crucial for nerve health due to its key role in regenerating nerve fibers and repairing nerve damage. Vitamin B12 has many health benefits, and—from a nerve health point of view—perhaps the most important of these is the part it plays in making myelin, which forms the protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibers. To learn more about the myelin sheath and its role in nerve health.
Who Can Benefit From Taking a B1, B6 and B12 Complex?
- People with diabetes. Nerve damage is thought to affect up to half of people with diabetes. High levels of blood sugar can injure nerves. If you have diabetes, your doctor may recommend taking a vitamin B supplement to support your nerve health alongside other, preventive measures such as careful blood sugar management and healthy lifestyle choices.
- People on special diets. Following a vegetarian or vegan diet brings many benefits, but some nutrients—such as vitamin B12—are only contained in meat and other animal products, as well as certain fortified foods like yeast extract or breakfast cereals.
- Seniors. The likelihood of nerve damage increases with age, due to the higher prevalence of chronic disease in seniors.
- People with other medical conditions. Some medical conditions, including autoimmune disease like shingles (herpes zoster), rheumatoid arthritis or celiac disease, as well as Lyme disease, some cancers, and several other diseases can also cause or increase the risk of nerve damage, also sometimes referred to as peripheral neuropathy
- People on certain medication. Certain chemotherapy regimens, some antibiotics if taken for long periods, and long-term use of the epilepsy drug phenytoin, carry a risk of nerve damage.
- Heavy drinkers. Excessive alcohol consumption—lasting for several years—can increase the likelihood of nerve damage.