A burning sensation in your feet, particularly in the soles, heels and pads of your toes, is a common medical complaint. This condition can range from mild discomfort to debilitating chronic pain that affects movement and sleep. There are several causes, including neuropathy or nerve damage, which most often occurs in diabetic patients. A B-vitamin deficiency, most commonly vitamin B-12, can also cause burning feet, in addition to other symptoms. A deficiency can occur in individuals with an unbalanced diet or medical conditions that affect how the body absorbs vitamin B-12. Consult your family doctor to diagnose and treat the cause of your burning feet.
The B vitamins are essential water-soluble nutrients that are found in many of the foods you eat. These include vitamin B-1, or thiamine, vitamin B-2, or riboflavin, vitamin B-3, or nicotinic acid, vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine and vitamin B-12, or cobalamin. Folate, or folic acid, is another B vitamin. These vital nutrients work together in a wide range of physiological functions, including red blood cell production, nerve cell function, the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates from food, energy production and immune system function. As your body cannot produce or store these vitamins, they must be consumed daily through a balanced diet, as well as through supplements when prescribed by your doctor.
B-12 Deficiency Symptoms
The Center for Peripheral Neuropathy at The University of Chicago reports that symptoms linked to vitamin B-12 and folate deficiencies are often nonspecific and may range in type and severity. These symptoms include soreness of the tongue and mouth, weight loss, pale skin, weakened immune system, rapid heart rate, diarrhea and menstrual problems. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 is most often linked to burning feet sensations and tingling in the finger and toes. Burning and numbness may also occur in the legs, arms and hands.
Though most B vitamins are readily available in foods, a vitamin B-12 deficiency is common, particularly among elderly individuals. NetDoctor notes that because this nutrient is primarily found in animal-based food products, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, fish and dairy products, you are more likely to have a deficiency if you have a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. In the elderly, a deficiency is more common due to problems with the absorption of vitamin B-12 in the stomach. Other illnesses that can cause a deficiency include autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin B-12 Effects
Vitamin B-12 plays a key role in nerve and spinal cord health. A deficiency can cause neuropathy, or nerve damage, leading to burning sensations in the feet. The Center for Peripheral Neuropathy at The University of Chicago explains that insufficient amounts of vitamin B-12 can damage the fatty myelin sheath that insulates and protects the nerves, causing poor nerve function. Nerve damage due to a vitamin B-12 deficiency can be permanent if the deficiency is not treated. It is important to consult your family doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment.