Links Between High Folate Levels and Neuropathic Pain


What is neuropathic pain?

Neuropathic pain occurs when the central nervous system or the peripheral nerves are damaged. Peripheral neuropathy usually begins in the longest nerves of the body, such as the feet and hands. As the condition progresses, it moves up the arms and legs.

Because the spine and nerves are intertwined and work together, issues in the spine can cause nerve pain. Lumbar herniated disc is a common form of nerve pain that occurs when a disc between the vertebrae becomes herniated and places pressure on a spinal nerve root. Once the nerves become damaged and neuropathy becomes an issue, false signals are sent from the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system to the spinal cord, and then to the brain.

What is folate?

Folate (also referred to as vitamin B9) is a natural vitamin that aids in cell growth and function. It is found in dark, leafy vegetables, nuts, peas, beans, bananas, lemons, oranges, strawberries, and melons. The synthetic form, folic acid, is in many cereals, pastas, and prenatal vitamins. Folate deficiency can occur if a person is not getting enough folate in their diet. The recommended daily amount is 400 mcg, although pregnant women are advised to take between 400 and 1,000 mcg per day.

Link between folate intake and neuropathic pain

An estimated one in four elderly Americans have a genetic variant in the TCN2 gene, which carries instructions for the protein that transports vitamin B12 throughout the body. Studies have shown that older adults with this particular gene variation who consume too much folate (over 800 mcg per day) tend to have an increased risk of developing peripheral neuropathy. It is recommended that older adults not exceed the daily recommended intake of 400 mcg.

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