Vitamin B-6 plays a crucial role in the health of your nervous and immune systems, and also is essential for the proper metabolism of protein and red blood cells. Although having an adequate vitamin B-6 intake is necessary for good health, getting too much or too little causes many adverse side effects. One of these side effects is a numbness or tingling feeling of the feet or hands.
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A common reaction to excessive amounts of vitamin B-6 is temporary nerve damage to the arms and the legs, which may produce a numbness or tingling feeling. It also may cause a decreased sensation of touch, temperature or vibration, according to Drugs.com. Loss of coordination may also occur. This condition typically reverses itself once you stop taking vitamin B-6 supplements. Your chance of experiencing this temporary nerve damage increases proportionally to your vitamin B-6 supplement dosage. The U.S. Office of Dietary Supplement notes that this reaction has occurred in doses lower than 500 mg per day, but is more common with higher amounts. Conversely, feelings of numbness or tingling in the limbs may also occur with a vitamin B-6 deficiency, although this type of deficiency is rare in the United States. Individuals with a vitamin B-6 deficiency that suffer from this nerve damage may use vitamin B-6 supplementation to treat this condition.
Experiencing tingling or numbness in your limbs is unlikely if you are otherwise healthy as long as you keep your vitamin B-6 daily intake close to the recommended dietary allowance for your age group and gender. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin B-6 is 1.3 mg a day for adult males and females between the ages of 19 and 50. Individuals over the age of 50 require larger amounts. Men over the age of 50 should aim for at least 1.7 mg of vitamin B-6 a day, while women of the same age group should aim for at least 1.5 mg. While taking slightly more than these amounts is unlikely to cause any adverse reactions, always limit your intake to well below the tolerable upper intake limit. All adults should not exceed more than 100 mg of vitamin B-6 a day unless they are deficient in the vitamin, have a certain medical condition that interferes with vitamin B6 absorption or are specifically instructed to do so by a doctor.
Some people believe that large doses of vitamin B-6 can treat certain conditions, such as seizures, depression, headaches, chronic pain, Parkison’s disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and premenstrual syndrome. Not only is there no clinical evidence to prove the effectiveness of this treatment, but taking these large amounts increases the risk of experiencing adverse reactions to the vitamin. Never take large amounts of vitamin B-6 to treat any medical condition on your own. Significant quantities of this vitamin should only be taken under the guidance of your doctor.
Although rare, a numbness or tingling sensation in the feet after taking vitamin B-6 may also be caused by an allergic reaction to the supplement. If this is the case, a rash, hives, itching sensation or swelling may also be present, and you may find it difficult to breathe or have a tightness in your chest. Since allergic reactions may be life-threatening, seek emergency medical attention if any of these symptoms occur.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-6 Fact Sheet
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes: Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels, Vitamins
- Drugs.com: Pyridoxine Side Effects
- University of Virginia Health Systems: Peripheral Neuropathy and Vitamin B6