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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Can vitamin D reverse nerve damage from diabetes?

Diabetic neuropathy is a neurological disorder that is often associated with diabetes mellitus. It results from injury to the small blood vessels that supply nerves. Symptoms may include numbness and tingling of extremities, abnormal sensations, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, facial and eyelid drooping, vision changes, dizziness, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, speech impairment, muscle contractions, lack of orgasm, or burning and electric sensations.

Diabetic neuropathy is the most common complication in diabetes patients. The prevalence of diabetic neuropathy is approximately 20% of all diabetics. Diabetic neuropathy is implicated in 50–75% of all diabetic amputations.

Dr. David Bell of the University of the Alabama Medical School recently reported on a case of diabetic neuropathy treated with vitamin D.

Bell DS. Reversal of the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy through Correction of Vitamin D Deficiency in a Type 1 Diabetic Patient. Case Report Endocrinol. 2012;2012:165056.

A 38-year-old insulin dependent diabetic patient had tingling, burning, and shooting pains in both hands and feet for 10 years with a worsening of symptoms during the previous four years. Initially, he had partial relief of his symptoms with antidepressants and gabapentin (Neurontin) derivatives. However, his symptoms became so severe that he had to stop working.

He required narcotics for pain control, which only marginally helped his symptoms. Vitamin B12 deficiency was ruled out as a cause of his neuropathic symptoms. While his HbA1c was relatively good at 7.0%, his 25(OH)D level was 16.5 ng/mL so he was started on 50,000 units of vitamin D2 weekly. Within two weeks his diabetic neuropathy symptoms began to decrease. Within four weeks his symptoms had improved to a level at which he was able to discontinue his narcotics. A repeat 25(OH)D level after one month of therapy was 48 ng/mL.

Dr. Bell concluded,

“I would therefore propose that in all diabetic patients presenting with symptomatic or non-symptomatic neuropathy, a 25-OH vitamin D level is obtained and that if the 25-OH-vitamin D level is less than 30 ng/mL, therapy with vitamin D2 or D3 is initiated to elevate the 25-OH vitamin D level to a level of above 30 ng/mL.”

He points out,

“The correction of vitamin D deficiency cannot be harmful and has the potential to alleviate neuropathic symptoms and lower the need for medications especially narcotics with their often severe side effects. In addition with correction of vitamin D deficiency, there is the potential of arresting and perhaps reversing the progression of neuronal destruction.”

We agree, but would always use human vitamin D (D3) rather than prescription D2.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

2 Responses to Can vitamin D reverse nerve damage from diabetes?

  1. Nice article. There are 4 other articles and a clinical trial about Vitamin D and Peripheral Neuropathy, an Overview of Vitamin D and diabetes, and links to 134 clinical trials for vitamin D intervention to prevent of treat diabetes.
    Diabetes is one of the top 10 diseases to be prevented and treated by vitamin D. http://www.vitamindwiki.com/tiki-index.php?page_id=3800