Vitamins for Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition of nerve damage characterized by pain, numbness or tingling in the nerves leading from the brain and spinal cord to the body. There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, including diabetes, infection, inflammation, vitamin deficiencies and exposure to chemicals or drugs, such as pesticides, mercury and lead. Vitamin therapies can be beneficial in the treatment of many forms of peripheral neuropathy, according to

Nerve damage can occur in the hands. (Image: Ocskay Bence/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin E

Vitamin E capsule. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The use of vitamin E to treat peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy was tested and found effective in a 2010 study in "Neurology." The chemotherapy agent cisplatin, which has a high incidence of severe peripheral neuropathy at certain dose levels, was used in the study. Patients on cisplatin therapy were given oral vitamin E, in the alpha-tocopherol form, before starting chemotherapy and for three months after. The incidence and severity of neuropathy was found to be significantly lower in the vitamin E group than in the control group that received a placebo. The researchers concluded that, due to the effectiveness of vitamin E at protecting patients from neurotoxic effects of cisplatin in this study, vitamin E should be included in the treatment protocol of patients receiving this drug.

Benfotiamine with Vitamin B6

Vitamin B. (Image: hh5800/iStock/Getty Images)

Peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, caused by the damaging effects of chronically high blood sugar levels and the associated impairment of thiamine metabolism, according to a study in a 2006 issue of "Pharmacology." Thiamine is required for breakdown of carbohydrates, but is rapidly depleted in diabetics because their cells need large amounts to manage glucose levels that tend to stay high. The study used the fat soluble form of the vitamin, called benfotiamine, for its superior bioavailability, in combination with vitamin B6. Over a 45-day period, a highly significant reduction of pain was reported by 95.5 percent of study participants. Objective testing revealed improvements in that nerves conducted impulses more quickly in 46 percent of patients and decreased levels of a type of hemoglobin called glycosylated, related to high blood sugar, in 54 percent of patients. The researchers concluded that benfotiamine is an effective supplement for the management of diabetic neuropathy.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D. (Image: Vladimir Voronin/Hemera/Getty Images)

When a peripheral nerve is cut, surgery to repair the damage is sometimes unsuccessful and the nerve fails to recover. A study on vitamin D therapy has found that the vitamin has the ability to aid in the promotion of nerve regeneration. A 2008 "Journal of Neurotrauma" study used the plant-derived form of vitamin D, known as ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2, on rats with severed lower-leg nerves. The rats received 100 international units per kilogram body weight per day of ergocalciferol for 10 weeks. Significant nerve regeneration was observed and sensory and motor functions were found to be intact. The researchers recommend that further testing is needed to compare dosage and effectiveness of ergocalciferol with cholecalciferol, vitamin D, for the purpose of treating traumatic peripheral neuropathy.

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