Think about the massive electrical grid that helps light up a city. The nervous system is just like an electrical grid, sending communication all throughout the body via the nerves.
A nerve is a bundle of neurons, which are the cells in the nervous system that transfer each electrochemical impulse of communication. Nerves are present throughout the whole body.
Nerves help us respond to signals from our surrounding environment (think: automatic impulse to pull your hand away from a hot stove) and allow the body to communicate between its many systems.
The three major types of nerves include:
Nerve issues can occur due to a variety of issues. These may include:
Signs and symptoms of potential nerve issues include numbness and tingling, pain, and/or muscle weakness. If any of these are noticed, you should talk to your healthcare provider to identify the root cause of the symptoms.
There are tests available to detect nerve issues. Tests for nerve issues include:
Supplementation can help get enough of the vital nutrients to promote nerve health.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is known for many functions in the body including:
In the body, acetyl-L-carnitine synthesis occurs either from eating fish and meat which provide carnitine or from the amino acids methionine and lysine.
Deficiency of acetyl-L-carnitine can occur in people with genetic issues, poor dietary intake of carnitine or methionine and lysine, older age, and other health issues.
One study found that supplementation with acetyl-L-carnitine at 500mg twice daily for 4 months promoted nerve comfort. The effect is likely due to the nutrient’s neuroprotective effect.
Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant used in some intravenous medications and oral supplements to help reduce oxidative stress.
Oral doses of 600 mg daily appear to be supportive but doses ranging between 300-600 mg also show benefits.
One study found that supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid resulted in restored blood levels of glutathione, a major antioxidant in the body,
Of the B vitamins, B1 (also known as thiamine), B6, and B12 are of particular importance for nerve health.
These B vitamins are essential for the synthesis of myelin sheaths, the insulation around nerves that enables quick and efficient transmission of electrical impulses.
Deficiencies may present as numbness or tingling.
Vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 are considered safe even at larger doses. Excess vitamin B6, however, can lead to nerve issues, so keep doses below 200 mg daily.
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that has antioxidant-like properties and gives the spice its health benefits, as well as its flavor and yellow color.
Several studies in rats show that curcumin can promote nerve protection and regeneration.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats found in foods, as well as in supplements like fish oil. Food sources of omega-3 fats include fatty fish as well as plant foods including chia and flaxseeds.
According to one study, omega-3 fatty acids may play a protective role in motor nerve function while also supporting muscle function and recovery.
Fish oil supplementation has also been shown to promote nerve conduction and may prevent nerve dysfunction.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a compound that plays an essential role in the glutathione antioxidant system in the body. This vital compound helps replenish glutathione levels, reduces oxidative stress, and increases oxygen and blood flow to tissues by boosting mitochondrial function.
One study showed that NAC helped with nerve regeneration and has neuro-protective properties.
Magnesium is responsible for the activation of more than 300 enzymes in the body, including maintenance of muscle and nerve function.
This important mineral is essential for nerve transmission and neuromuscular conduction and muscular contraction. Low levels of magnesium in the blood can contribute to or result in impairment of these functions.
Current recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for magnesium intake are about 420 mg for adult men and about 320 mg for adult women, with more needed during pregnancy.
If you experience any signs of nerve issues, including numbness, tingling, pain, or muscle weakness, seek support from your medical provider.
Nutritional supplements can maintain healthy nerves, including reducing oxidative stress, promoting nerve regeneration, and helping nerve communication. As nerves are present all across the body, nerve health is worth supporting.