Over the last decade, several studies have explored the link between vitamin D deficiency and increased pain in patients with chronic pain syndromes, depression and neuropathy. In a 2008 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, restoring vitamin D levels to normal range in type 2 diabetics with peripheral neuropathy resulted in a 40-50% decrease in reported pain.
At US Neuropathy Centers, our specialists are committed to providing comprehensive options through multi-disciplinary care models tailored to each patients’ specific needs. With 14 locations across the United States, US Neuropathy Centers is the largest and best resource for treatment and tips to relieve symptoms of nerve damage.
A vitamin D deficiency can increase nerve damage to an already fragile nervous system. Vitamin D serves several important roles in the body, including modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation. Vitamin D can reduce glial inflammation and nitric acid oxide production from Schwann cell activation, which is thought to be part of the mechanism of pain in neuropathic patients. Patients with inadequate vitamin D levels who were taking narcotic pain drugs may require nearly twice as much medication to control pain as patients with adequate D levels.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Some foods are fortified with added vitamin D. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. This process is decreased in people with darker skin and in the elderly.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2006 estimated average ranges of vitamin D intake levels from food for males at 204 to 288 International Units (IU)/day depending on life stage group, and for females at 144 to 276 IU/day. These ranges fall far short of the recommended 600 IU for people under 70, and 800 IU per day for those 70+.
The recommended form of vitamin D is vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol, but many supplements contain vitamin D as vitamin D2 or calciferol. Because of its potency, different forms of vitamin D are used in prescription medications. If you have a prescription for one of these medications, do not switch to another form of vitamin D without checking with your doctor.
If you have been diagnosed with neuropathy or are experiencing symptoms of neuropathy, you should be tested for Vitamin D deficiency. This may be part of a more comprehensive test that will look at other nutritional and/or hormonal imbalances that may be contributing to your symptoms.
If you are suffering from neuropathy, please do not hesitate to call us at any of our US Neuropathy Centers locations. With offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, our neuropathy experts are easily accessible and here to help.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.
@US Neuropathy Centers, 2014