The Relationship Between Low Vitamin D Levels and Diabetic Neuropathy
Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in the type 2 diabetic population, especially type 2 diabetics who have neuropathy accompanied by pain. Individuals with a vitamin D deficiency tend to have low levels of neurotrophins, including nerve growth factor. Vitamin D deficiency impairs sensory neurons that detect pain, increases possible nerve damage, slows nerve conduction, and reduces the pain threshold, which can increase the perception of pain.
When both neuropathy and low vitamin D levels are present, supplementing with vitamin D can decrease neuropathic pain and improve neuropathy-related balance problems. Vitamin D supplementation may also increase nerve growth factor, improve nerve function, prevent nerve degeneration, and promote axonal regeneration (the repair of part of a nerve). It may also repair certain pain receptors, increasing the pain threshold and decreasing the perception of pain.
Vitamin D supplementation is a promising neuropathy treatment option for individuals with low levels of vitamin D. While it is possible to get vitamin D from sun exposure and certain foods, people with low levels may need oral or injectable vitamin D supplementation. In some cases, applying topical vitamin D to areas of the body affected by neuropathy can help reduce symptoms.
A health care professional should always be consulted before adding any supplement to a treatment plan.