Vitamin D, Diabetic Neuropathy and Depression in Women with Type 2 Diabetes

A recent study conducted at Loyola University highlighted the efficacy of Vitamin D supplementation in treating pain and depression in women with Type 2 Diabetes. In the news release, Todd Doyle, PhD, lead author and fellow at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM), presented the research findings.

Study participants were given Vit. D supplementation of 50,000 IU every week for six months. The research focused on the effect of Vit. D supplementation on diabetic neuropathy and depression.

The pain experienced by Type 2 diabetics is most often due to neuropathy: nerve damage caused by diabetes and often described as shooting or burning pain in the legs and feet. In addition, sensory pain described as numbness and tingling may also be experienced in hands, fingers, feet and legs. People who have had diabetes for 25 years are more likely to experience neuropathy.

The experience of living with pain from neuropathy may cause clinical depression. Living with Type 2 Diabetes is also a factor in the diagnosis of depression.

The results of the study are as follows:

  • depression improved significantly following supplementation
  • at the start of the study, 61% of participants experienced burning or shooting pain in their legs and feet. 74% reported numbness and tingling in their hands, fingers and legs.
  • three and six months following Vit. D supplementation, participants reported a marked decrease in neuropathic and sensory pain

While the study looks very promising, Dr. Doyle admits that further research is needed. The National Institute of Nursing Research has provided funding for further study.

The typical over-the-counter Vit. D supplement contains 1000 IU Vit. D3 in 25 mcg. The 50,000 IU dosage used in the study is extremely difficult to meet using available over-the-counter supplements.

The current treatment for managing Type 2 Diabetes includes medication,  maintaining target blood sugar levels, eating a balanced diet and regular exercise. Fasting glucose levels for individuals with diabetes is 3.9 – 7.2 mmol/L. After meals, the level is less than 10 mmol/L.

If you are interested in the research findings and using Vit. D to alleviate symptoms of neuropathy and depression, talk it over with your doctor first.