Nerve cells carry sensations from every part of the body to the brain, which interprets the sensations as pain, warmth, pressure or other types of feelings. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet can be caused by many factors, including inadequate blood supply, injury or pressure to a nerve. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can result from not getting enough to eat, can also trigger numbness in the feet.
General Caloric Needs
Calories are the fuel your body runs on, but it can be tough to pinpoint the minimum amount of calories you need to for healthy circulation. The number of calories you need varies depending upon your sex, age and activity level, but, in general, sedentary women and the elderly should get about 1,600 calories per day, while older children, teens, active women and sedentary men should try to eat at least 2,200 calories per day. Very active women, pregnant women, teen boys and active men can eat up to 2,800 calories per day, but the focus should be on eating healthy balanced meals and not junk foods.
Sometimes, it’s not eating too few total calories that leads to numbness in the extremities, as much as it is eating too few of the right calories. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can result from a poor diet during infancy, a vegetarian diet, or not getting adequate nutrition during pregnancy, according MedlinePlus, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The result is the development of vitamin b12 deficiency anemia, in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells to carry vital oxygen the extremities.
An eating disorder, like anorexia bulimia, commonly results in the patient getting too few calories to sustain health. It also increases the risk of dehydration and mineral imbalance. Abnormal levels of potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium and phosphorus, stemming from an eating disorder, can lead to an electrolyte imbalance in the body. Not only can the imbalance contribute to numbness, it can also lead to serious health disorders, some of which can be fatal. If you suffer from eating disorder, foot numbness is a red flag telling you that your body is not getting the nutrition it needs.
If you’re severely restricting your caloric intake, that could be the cause of numbness and tingling in your feet or hands. Call your doctor, however, if you increase your caloric intake and you still experience numbness, or if numbness in the feet doesn’t go away within a few hours. Other medical conditions, including diabetes, stroke, a reaction to medication, ingestion of toxins or even an insect bite could be causing the problem.
- Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Numbness and Tingling
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Anorexia Nervosa
- MedlinePlus: Anemia – B12 Deficiency
- The Complete Idiots Guide to Total Nutrition (Third Edition): Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.