Do you experience a lack of coordination, loss of muscle mass, muscle soreness, or numbness and tingling in the fingers or toes? These symptoms could be a possible deficiency in the B complex of vitamins? What do they have in common with neuropathy? Let’s take a look at what Dr. John Thomas has to say about the possible connection of nerve pain or nerve damage that could be based on your ability to methylate efficiently, your genetic profile, MTHFR, and vitamin B toxicity.
When we talk about neuropathy here, we’re looking at people who seek out a neurologist without the common conditions of neuropathy such as diabetics, statin drugs, or people undergoing chemo treatments. Many times their doctor will give them a general diagnosis of polyneuropathy or chronic inflammatory neuropathy. Basically, they’re saying, “Hey you’ve got this, but we have no clue why, and where it’s coming from.”
In his practice, Dr. Thomas finds that if neuropathy is further investigated through some lab work, looking at certain vitamin components, there is usually an excess or toxic load of B vitamins in the body that may be contributing factors to driving the neuropathy symptoms. He says this is where we might want to look at a genetic connection contributing to the problem. Dr. Thomas notices when he runs blood work and finds high vitamin B levels especially B6 levels and patients are experiencing neuropathy, it leads him to believe B6 toxicity is a factor. VitaminB6 toxicity can be characterized as too much of the inactive form of B6 and the problem comes when it’s actually outside of the cell versus how much can get inside the cell. We know that vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can cause nerve toxicity if it’s too much, and over time, high doses of B6 can cause numbness and tingle in the extremities.
This is where genetic factors could be something to consider because many times bloodwork only looks at the serum levels of B6 or B12 taking into account how much of the vitamin is in the body. If these levels are on the high side, most likely it’s outside the cells. The message is, you got a lot, but it’s not being utilized properly, it’s inactive, and not able to be activated for delivery to your cells to promote energy and healing. Dr. Thomas says, this can be a problem, because if those B vitamins are in excess on the outside of the cell, and they can’t get through the doorway to the inside, eventually, they are going to oxidize. It’s going to be those B vitamins that will drive inflammation and do more harm than good.
Why does this happen and what are some reasons we aren’t able to utilize these necessary vitamins? Dr. Thomas says, they can’t get into the cell due to the fact that some people have a genetic weakness in some of those transport genes which makes it hard to get certain vitamins from outside to the inside of the cell. This creates a burden for the body because it has to expend energy and go to work to reduce the inflammation.
One of the first things you can do is get a genetic test with a complete panel, not just MTHFR. There are certain pathways that are responsible for helping to clear out those free radicals or those oxidized B vitamins and it’s based on our peroxidation pathways. This is where the neuropathy connection link comes into play. Our nerves need nitric oxide for the vasodilation of our blood vessels. Nitric oxide is actually vital for our nerves to communicate with each other. However, if our B vitamins are oxidizing, it’s eventually going to signal the nitric oxide levels to start ramping up, because there’s nerve damage going on. There is oxidation happening when the B vitamins can’t do their job. Eventually, all those oxidized or damaged B vitamins are going to bind to nitric oxide and create even more inflammation.
This is where people may exhibit a chronic inflammatory response known as polyneuropathy, meaning massive inflammation, and where genetic weaknesses show up. Yes, sometimes it is MTHFR. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). MTHFR is an enzyme that breaks down the amino acid homocysteine. The MTHFR gene that codes for this enzyme has the potential to mutate, which can either interfere with the enzyme’s ability to function normally or completely inactivate the ability to support the break down of homocysteine.
Most people usually do not know that they have an MTHFR mutation unless they undergo genetic testing. However, Dr. Thomas says, this genetic link shows up when there are multiple players involved with the inability to transport those B vitamins. It’s usually a transport weakness with nitric oxide, peroxidation, SOD, catalase, glutathione peroxidase that helps to control inflammation. This is kind of his first thought when looking at genetic factors with B vitamins. If we go further upstream things such as MTHFR play into this because if you have these neuropathy issues it will most likely be from an MTHFR side of things. For example, if you have issues with B12 genes most likely you can’t produce enough of the active vitamins to be able to methylate and heal the body.
Does The Quality of B Vitamins Make a Difference?
When it comes to taking vitamins the first thing you should consider is the quality of your B vitamins. Are they loaded with fillers and excipients? This could add to the toxicity load if it’s not a clean source of vitamins. Dr. Thomas says that most of the people who consult with him, with regards to neuropathy complaints, typically fall into a genetic disposition of being a toxic accumulator. They simply cannot detoxify efficiently. When you add the burden of poor quality vitamins and supplements the body has to work much harder to clear out the toxic load from these supplements.
Let’s Say That Your B Vitamin Status Is Normal On A Test But You Still Have Neuropathy Symptoms?
If your vitamin levels are normal on a test and it’s not an oxidized B vitamin component that’s driving neuropathy, then it usually comes down to the epigenetic picture. Dr. Thomas says, that about 70 percent of people with chronic inflammatory neuropathy presentations or idiopathic symptoms, find out that heavy metal or chemical accumulation in the body, is the culprit causing the symptoms. Once again, back to genetics, especially if someone is a poor detoxifier with a mouth full of metal fillings and lead exposure, and their body does a poor job of getting rid of those heavy metals, eventually it’s going to create inflammation and cause nerve damage.
He says, the foundations of pretty much any chronic health issue that people don’t have answers to, especially connected to neuropathy, really comes down to the connection between one’s genetic predisposition, vitamin transport, inflammation clearance, and genetic factors. The second piece of the epigenetic component with neuropathy symptoms can be the environment, especially if we’re exposed to pollutants and can’t detoxify them efficiently. As we can imagine heavy metals, viruses, and chemicals can affect the nervous system tremendously and cause much damage.
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