Peripheral neuropathy is an uncomfortable and often painful condition. Trauma, diabetes, alcoholism, infections or autoimmune disorders can lead to its development. It all starts when there is damage to a nerve, which can lead to infection or complete loss of feeling in the affected limb. Getting adequate vitamin D can help keep your nervous system healthy and may also play a role in reducing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Your central nervous system includes your brain and spinal cord. All the other nerves in your body are part of your peripheral nervous system. Vitamin D plays a role in brain and nervous system functioning. Receptors for 1 alpha, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D, the active form of vitamin D inside the body, have been found on nervous system cells, according to a report published in "Trends and Endocrinology and Metabolism" in April 2002. Keeping the neurons of the nervous system healthy can reduce your risk of peripheral neuropathy.
Your diet influences your risk of many chronic diseases, including peripheral neuropathy. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is also packed with vitamins and minerals that protect your nervous system. Foods containing vitamin D may help prevent the degeneration of your nervous system. A report published in "Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity" in December 2007 emphasizes the impact that vitamin D has on the nervous system, stating that vitamin D is responsible for its maintenance and growth. Evidence even suggests that vitamin D may have a therapeutic role in the treatment of nervous system conditions.
Vitamin D and Symptoms
Vitamin D can help relieve symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy. A study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" in April 2008 found that type 2 diabetics with peripheral neuropathy had lower pain scores after a three month supplementation of vitamin D. At the onset of the study, all participants had insufficient vitamin D levels. Research indicates that vitamin D increases growth and neuromuscular functioning. A vitamin D deficiency can increase nerve damage to an already fragile nervous system.
Vitamin D needs vary by age. If you are an adult up to age 70, you need to take in 600 international units, or IU, of vitamin D per day. For those over 70, the recommended dosage increases to 800 IU per day. You can obtain vitamin D from the sun, food and supplements. Your body absorbs the sun's rays and through a complex process is able to manufacture the vitamin D it needs. Staying in the sun for a short time between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. can give you all the vitamin D you need. Food sources of vitamin D are not adequate enough to fulfill your needs, but these include fortified breads, cereals and milk, fish and eggs. You can also get vitamin D in supplement form. However, always check with your doctor before taking any supplement.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Peripheral Neuropathy
- Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism: New Clues About Vitamin D Functions in the Nervous System
- Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity: Is Vitamin D Insufficiency Associated with Peripheral Neuropathy
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Vitamin D as an Analgesic for Patients With Type 2 Diabetes and Neuropathic Pain
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D