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How Vitamin B12 Deficiency Affects the Feet

Vitamin B-12 plays a significant role as the driving force behind many of the body’s important biochemical reactions, including those which are needed for proper nervous system function.

While a deficiency may cause problems throughout the entire body, one of these can be permanent damage to nerves — including those in the feet and legs.

How a B12 Deficiency Affects Your Feet

It can usually take around two years before the symptoms of deficiency become visible. This is because the liver has a large amount stored in reserves. In fact, most people, except for vegans, have a supply that should last between 3-5 years. If you believe that you may be deficient, it would be prudent to contact your doctor, but the groups listed below are generally at greater risk:

  • People over the age of 60
  • People who take drugs for diabetes
  • Women who have histories of miscarriage or infertility
  • People who are afflicted with IBS, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease
  • People who regularly take drugs for acid suppression
  • Vegans and vegetarians

Burning or tingling feet:

A B12 deficiency can negatively affect your feet! (Wikimedia Commons)

A B12 deficiency can negatively affect your feet! (Wikimedia Commons)

When the deficiency of B-12 occurs over the long-term, a condition called peripheral neuropathy occurs. This results when the nerves connecting the brain with the remainder of the body sustain damage. The more damaged they become, they will either malfunction and send the brain incorrect signals, or cease to function completely, resulting in a feeling of numbness. The unusual symptoms that result are tingling and burning, and they develop first in the body’s longest nerves — those that lead to the hands and the feet.

Other symptoms:

Once the tingling and burning has become noticeable, what normally follows is a diminished perception of vibration and position, poor motor reflexes that can lead to falls, and eventually will result in a loss of  balance and cause an unsteady gait that makes it difficult to walk or participate in any other type of physical activity.

Without treatment by a physician, the deficiency will cause worsening nerve damage that can spread up to the legs and the arms. In the most severe of all cases memory problems and confusion can arise, eventually culminating in vision loss, dementia, and depression.

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum is a Podiatric Physician and Surgeon serving patients in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.

Do you have questions or concerns?

Call or email today for immediate 
answers to your questions.


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472



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