Peripheral Neuropathy and Diabetes
Get Your Vitamin D
Your skin produces this nutrient in response to sunlight. It may protect against nerve pain. When researchers from Britain's University of Sheffield studied people with diabetic neuropathy, they found that those who had lower levels of Vitamin D also had more pain.
It's hard to get the recommended 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D from food alone. You may need to take a supplement. In fact, one study found that people with diabetic neuropathy who took a supplement once a week had fewer symptoms after two months.
Kick the Butts
"Smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict, impairing your circulation," Sackheim says. This means your peripheral nerves may get less nutrient-rich blood, which can lead to more pain.
Try a B Vitamin Complex
These play an important role in your nerve health. Not getting enough vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage. Vitamin B6 is important because it helps the brain produce certain chemicals that send information through our bodies, Sackheim says. Low levels of these chemicals can worsen pain.
Most people get enough B vitamins through food. But ask your doctor if you should take a supplement. Some studies show supplements can help reduce pain and other symptoms.
Soak in a Warm Bath
Not only is the warm water relaxing, but it can also boost circulation throughout your body. "It can provide instant relief," Vinik says. But because diabetic neuropathy can lead to a loss of sensation, make sure the water's not too hot before you get in.
Take an Alpha-Lipoic Acid Supplement
Your body naturally produces small amounts of this antioxidant. When taken in larger doses, it may help regulate blood sugar levels and ease nerve pain. One study found that people who took 600 milligrams daily had a 19% improvement in their diabetic neuropathy symptoms after 5 weeks. "Over the long term, alpha-lipoic damage may protect against further nerve damage," Vinik says.