B1, B6 & B12—Vitamins for a Healthy Nervous System

6 minutes read

The vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are essential for nerve health. These vitamins can help with the healing of nerve damage and relieve nerve damage symptoms like pamamanhid (numbness) and tusok-tusok (tingling)—this is why they are called ‘neurotropic’ vitamins.

Each of the B vitamins has its own special role in nerve health, but they also work in synergy together—like a close-knit team—to repair damaged nerves and keep the nervous system healthy and functioning. Research suggests that—because each of the B vitamins has its own special part to play in nerve health—taking a complex of B vitamins can be even more beneficial than taking an individual supplement.

Learn more about the three essential neurotropic vitamins B1, B6 and B12, how they work together to treat nerve damage and protect your nervous system with proper diet and exercise, and who can benefit from taking a vitamin B complex.¹

In this article:
B1, B6 & B12—Vitamins for a Healthy Nervous System

Vitamin B1: The Nerve Energizer ¹

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, helps keep your nervous system healthy. Nerves use a lot of energy, but they can’t store it so they need a constant supply. Vitamin B1 has a key role in converting carbohydrates into the energy that nerve cells need in order to function properly and stay healthy.

Some Sources of Vitamin B1

Your body can’t produce thiamine itself, so it’s important to eat foods that contain it every day. Vitamin B1-rich foods include:

  • Pork

  • Fish

  • Legumes (such as peas, beans, soybeans, lentils)

  • Rice

  • Seeds

  • Fortified breakfast cereals

Vitamin B6: The Nerve Signal Transmitter ¹

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is instrumental in making sure your nerve fibers are able to transmit signals effectively. Vitamin B6 has an important part to play in nerve health, by helping your body to produce vital neurotransmitters—these are the chemical messengers that relay messages from your brain to cells all around the body.

Some Sources of vitamin B6

A nerve-friendly diet should include foods that are high in vitamin B6, such as the following:

  • Pork or poultry (such as chicken or turkey)

  • Tuna

  • Starchy vegetables (such as potato)

  • Dairy

  • Some fortified cereals

Vitamin B12: The Nerve Regenerator ¹

Vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) is crucial for nerve health due to its key role in regenerating nerve fibers and repairing nerve damage. Vitamin B12 has many health benefits, and—from a nerve health point of view—perhaps the most important of these is the part it plays in making myelin, which forms the protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibers. To learn more about the myelin sheath and its role in nerve health, read about how the nervous system works.

Some Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in many everyday foods, such as:

  • Meat

  • Fish

  • Dairy

  • Eggs

  • Some fortified cereals

Why Are Three B Vitamins Better Than One? ¹

Although each of the neurotropic B vitamins has its own special role in nerve health, they all work together in synergy to repair, regenerate and protect the nerve fibers that make up your nervous system.

This is why research suggests that an optimal combination of the three vitamins, B1, B6 and B12, is more effective at relieving nerve damage symptoms and restoring nerve function than taking a single vitamin supplement.

The reasons for this are complex, but the overlap between the various functions of the different B vitamins is thought to be one aspect. It’s also known that nerve damage is generally caused by several factors at the same time. This means a combination of vitamins could be needed to effectively tackle all of the factors contributing to the nerve damage.

Who Can Benefit From Taking a B1, B6 and B12 Complex? ² ³ ⁴ ⁵

Some people have a higher risk of nerve damage resulting in symptoms like pamamanid (numbness) and tusok-tusok (tingling) due to a deficiency in some or all of these essential B vitamins. If you’re in one of these groups, ask your doctor whether you could benefit from taking a combined B1, B6 and B12 vitamin complex like Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) or Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION® Forte).

  • People with diabetes. Nerve damage is thought to affect up to half of people with diabetes. High levels of blood sugar can injure nerves. If you have diabetes, your doctor may recommend taking a vitamin B supplement to support your nerve health alongside other, preventive measures such as careful blood sugar management and healthy lifestyle choices.

  • People on special diets. Following a vegetarian or vegan diet brings many benefits, but some nutrients—such as vitamin B12—are only contained in meat and other animal products, as well as certain fortified foods like yeast extract or breakfast cereals.

  • Seniors. The likelihood of nerve damage increases with age, due to the higher prevalence of chronic disease in seniors.

  • People with other medical conditions. Some medical conditions, including autoimmune disease like shingles (herpes zoster), rheumatoid arthritis or celiac disease, as well as Lyme disease, some cancers, and several other diseases can also cause or increase the risk of nerve damage, also sometimes referred to as peripheral neuropathy.

  • People on certain medication. Certain chemotherapy regimens, some antibiotics if taken for long periods, and long-term use of the epilepsy drug phenytoin, carry a risk of nerve damage.

  • Heavy drinkers. Excessive alcohol consumption—lasting for several years—can increase the likelihood of nerve damage.

In Short ¹

The neurotropic vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are the unsung heroes of nerve health. They work together to supply your nerves with energy, keep them functioning smoothly, and help to repair nerve fibers and restore nerve function.

Some people are at a higher risk of experiencing nerve damage. If you are in one of the at-risk groups or think you may have any nerve damage symptoms, such as tusok-tusok (tingling) or pamamanhid (numbness) in the hands or feet, see your doctor for a diagnosis—you may be able to benefit from taking a vitamin B complex.

Taking a vitamin B complex is recommended because there is evidence that a combination of neurotropic B vitamins is more effective than taking a single vitamin B supplement, due to the synergies between the different vitamins.

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor

Talk to your doctor about the Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) formulation, dose and duration of treatment that is appropriate for you.

Article Sources

¹ Calderón‐Ospina, C. A., & Nava‐Mesa, M. O. (2020). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 26(1), 5-13.

² U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). Diabetic neuropathy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies/all-content

³ Head, K. A. (2006). Peripheral neuropathy: pathogenic mechanisms and alternative therapies. Alternative medicine review, 11(4).

⁴ Boulton, A. J., Malik, R. A., Arezzo, J. C., & Sosenko, J. M. (2004). Diabetic somatic neuropathies. Diabetes care, 27(6), 1458-1486.

⁵ Briani, C., Dalla Torre, C., Citton, V., Manara, R., Pompanin, S., Binotto, G., & Adami, F. (2013). Cobalamin deficiency: clinical picture and radiological findings. Nutrients, 5(11), 4521-4539.

ASC REFERENCE NO.: P076N042022NS