Numbness and tingling in the extremities is an annoying symptom with many causes. Diabetes, tight shoes and a vitamin deficiency can all be culprits. Before talking to your health-care provider, take careful note of your other symptoms to help indicate a diagnosis. Most causes of tingling and numbness in the feet can be successfully treated.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin necessary to maintain nerve health. B12 participates in metabolizing fatty acids to make myelin, the sheath surrounding nerves. It occurs naturally in dairy and proteins, but is not stored in the body the way fat-soluble vitamins are. A small amount of B12 is stored in the liver, according to the Vegetarian Society, but the vitamin needs to be replenished daily.
Diagnosing a vitamin B12 deficiency is essential before beginning treatment. Symptoms for the deficiency include burning, tingling and numbness in the feet or hands as well as mental confusion, anemia, irregular menstrual cycles and sore tongue. You don't need to have all of the symptoms to have a B12 deficiency, and it is usually easily diagnosed with a blood test.
Adults need 1.5mcg per day to maintain healthy body function. A vitamin B12 deficiency can be avoided by eating a diet rich in meat, dairy and eggs. Other foods, such as breads and some pastas, are fortified with the vitamin. Supplementation is especially important for vegetarians and vegans, who usually don't get enough B12 through their diet.
The benefit of vitamin B12 supplementation is that it can quickly bring blood levels of the vitamin up to normal. Vitamin B12 can be administered in pill form that is swallowed, pill form that is dissolved under the tongue, nasal spray or as an injection. Dosages vary depending on the level of the deficiency. Your doctor will need to prescribe a large dose of B12, according to the health-care providers at MayoClinic.com. Blood tests will show if your body is getting enough B12 to maintain health.
Vitamin B12 is usually not toxic even in high doses because it isn't stored in the body, according to Drugs.com. However, there are side effects that can be annoying. They include headache, nausea, joint pain, fever and rash. Some people are allergic to cobalt, which is a component of B12. Always consult with your health-care provider before taking any supplements.