There is an old saying that goes "If your feet hurt, everything hurts" and it may not be far from the truth. The reasons for foot pain are varied, but the common denominator is that foot pain can really slow you down. Vitamin deficiencies are rare in developed nations because most people get the proper amount of nutrients in their diet. However, if you are a strict vegetarian, an alcoholic or have a malabsorption condition affecting your digestive system, you may not be getting enough vitamins, including the B vitamins. Deficiency of certain B vitamins does cause foot pain. Consult your podiatrist or physician about the reason for your foot pain before supplementing your diet with vitamin B.
Vitamin B-1 Deficiency
Scientists discovered vitamin B-1, or thiamine, first. Along with the other B vitamins, it's water-soluble, meaning it isn't stored by your body and is excreted with your urine. You need vitamin B-1 to help digest carbohydrates, use fats and proteins, manufacture red blood cells and assist the proper functioning of your immune and nervous systems. Alcoholics and the elderly are prone to deficiency of vitamin B-1, resulting in beriberi, a disease causing weakness, fatigue, an enlarged heart and confusion. It also causes edema, burning, tingling and stabbing pain in your feet and lower legs.
Deficiency of Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6, also referred to as pyridoxine, is another B vitamin you must obtain through your diet. Vitamin B-6 is crucial for healthy skin, digestion of carbohydrates, fats and amino acids from proteins and production of red blood cells. It is also required by your nervous system. A deficiency causes painful burning and tingling sensations in your feet. A vitamin B-6 deficiency also causes a scaly rash, cracks in the corners of your mouth, seizures and a swollen, red tongue. Alcoholics and those with malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn's disease are more at risk for developing a vitamin B-6 deficiency, but certain medications, including penicillamine and hydralazine, can also deplete your vitamin B levels.
Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, has the most complex chemical structure of all the B vitamins and the only one that contains the metal cobalt, according to Oregon State University. Vitamin B-12 is an integral part of DNA and enzyme synthesis, nervous system functions and red blood cell production. Unlike the other B vitamins, vitamin B-12 is stored in your liver. Deficiency of vitamin B-12 is prevalent in the elderly and results in a condition called pernicious anemia. The symptoms of a vitamin B-12 deficiency include poor appetite, sore tongue, memory loss and dementia, along with difficulty walking and painful tingling sensations and numbness in your feet.
Deficiency of Biotin
Although it's classified in the B vitamin family, AltMD states biotin is actually a coenzyme that works along with the B vitamins. You get biotin through your diet. You need biotin for the synthesis of fatty acids, to build protein from amino acids and obtain energy from the breakdown of carbohydrates. It also helps maintain the health of your nerves, skin, hair and nails. Biotin deficiency causes fatigue, grayish skin color, skin rashes and problems with digestion. It also causes your skin to become painfully sensitive to touch with tingling in your feet and hands.
Is This an Emergency?
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins
- Washington University in St. Louis: Vitamin and Nutrition Related Syndromes
- AltMD: Thiamine
- The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook: Vitamin B-6
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin B-12; Jane Higdon; March 2003
- AltMD: Biotin