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Prairie Path Foot & Ankle Clinic

How can vitamins and diet help with diabetic neuropathy?

For many diabetic patients, tingling and numbness in your feet and toes is a normal occurance.  This effect on your feet is labeled diabtic neuropathy,and if these feelings of tingling and numbness affect your feet and hands in the absence of diabeteis, it is referred to as peripheral neuropathy.  Although there are many types of periperal neuropathy, diabetes is the main cause and accounts for the majority of cases in the country of neuropathy. Sometimes a person may not be aware that they have diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy may be the first indication and may trigger testing and a diagnsosis. 

Factors that contribute to diabetic neuropathy include how long you have had diabetes, how tightly hyperglycemia is controled, and also other factors such as hyperlipidemia and the amount of albumin ( a type of protein) excretion.  Obesity is a contributing factor as well.  However researchers have come out with recommendations regarding proper nutrition as an augment to controling diabetes and the common complications associated with it. 

The first line of defense for preventing peripheral neuropathy in diabetic patients is making sure that there are no vitamin deficiencies.  Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is a vitamin that is found inmany foods. Clinincally, it is manifested by sensory loss (loss of sharp/dull or hot/cold), burning sensations with weakness in the toes and feet. Once thiamine deficiency is identified, it can be replaced with oral or intravenous supplements and can be augmented with proper diet. Another vitamin, B6, can also cause neruopathy either in deficiency or in excess.  B6 deficiency can be found in patients who are on chronic hemodialysis (of which many diabetics are undergoing), or malnutrition in homelessness or chronic alcoholism. It can also be caused by  number of known medications as a side effect.  Again, this nerumparhy is manifested as tingling, numbness, and burning in the feet and toes.  Oral supplementation with B6 can replenish the body and must be taken daily.  Vitamin B12, or cobalamine, is commonly found in animal by-products so this deficiency may occur in vegans.  Lack of B12 is also found in patients on certain medications, including metformin, and also those who have malabsorption in the gut.  The most common cause is due to pernicious anemia, or an autoimmune disorder leading to a lack of B12 absorption.  

If you are diabetic and feel that you may have neuropathy, make an appointment with one of our doctors.  We can help diagnose this in your feet.  If you are diabetic, you should have your feet checked regularly by a podiatrist.  Make an appointment today!