Is it worth taking Supplements for Diabetic Neuropathy?
In my medical practice, I have come along with many patients who ask me to prescribe supplements for Diabetic Neuropathy. There are many supplements that are promoted as an alternative treatment option to treat the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, but there are only a few that have shown promising results in the studies.
Peripheral neuropathy is one of the long-standing complications of Diabetes. The most disturbing symptoms of Neuropathy are tingling and pain in feet and hands. In addition to this peripheral neuropathy can also lead to loss of sensation, nonhealing ulcers, and even amputation of limbs.
Dietary supplements for diabetic neuropathy not only minimize the symptoms of the disease. But in some cases, it is even possible to reverse the complications of diabetes only if lifestyle modification and health supplements are started in an early stage of the disease.
1. Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant found in many food items. It can be taken from outside and is also made naturally in our bodies. This supplement is being prescribed for many years in several parts of Europe for the treatment of certain types of nerve damage.
There are several studies that suggest that alpha lipoic acid not only helps with neuropathy but also improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The supplement also provides symptomatic relief to neuropathy patients as it reduces the symptoms like prickling, tingling and pain.
There is also evidence that suggests that it also prevents the human retina from the damage caused by diabetes. The recommended dose of alpha-lipoic acid is between 600 mg to 1800 mg. According to the most accepted study, a 600 mg dose of alpha-lipoic acid given for three weeks is effective in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.
Alpha lipoic acid is present in food but in very small amounts. The sources of this antioxidant are Rice bran, beets, carrot, potatoes, yams, spinach and broccoli.
2. B vitamins
The vitamins of the B Complex group play an important role in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes.
In most cases, peripheral neuropathy is caused by the deficiency of B vitamins even in non-diabetic patients. The main vitamins which are supplemented to treat this condition are vitamin B1, Benfotiamine, B6, and B 12.
Benfotiamine is a molecule similar to vitamin B1 which is also known as thiamine. It has an immense role in reducing pain and preventing cellular damage.
Vitamin B6 and B12 should also be supplemented to diabetic neuropathy patients along with benfotiamine. But vitamin B6 should be taken in moderation as a higher concentration of this vitamin can cause irreversible nerve damage.
The sources of B vitamins are fish, poultry, meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products, seafood, and fortified cereals.
Acetyl L carnitine is an amino acid as well as an antioxidant. It increases the level of energy, helps with neuropathy related pain, and repairs the damaged nerve cells. The recommended dose of carnitine is 500 mg twice a day preferably after meals. The food sources of carnitine include dairy products, meat poultry, and fish.
Curcumin is a herb that is used in cooking in many parts of the world. It is known for its antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties.
This herb is available in the form of grounded powder as well as an herbal supplement. It can be taken in the capsule form or you can also add the powder to smoothies salads and curries.
According to a study done in the year 2014, Curcumin has shown positive effects in the neuropathy symptoms like pain, tingling, and numbness.
Evidence also suggests that, curcumin helps in increasing the levels of calcium in the body. Calcium too has a therapeutic effect in diabetic neuropathy patients.
4. Fish Oil
Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and known for its anti inflammatory properties. It also helps in repairing nerve damage,improves muscle soreness and releives pain. Omega 3 fatty acids can also be found in seads, nuts and soybeans.
A review was done in the year 2017 that examined fish oil as a potential treatment option for Diabetic peripheral neuropathy. According to the results of the study, fish oil supplements can decrease the severity of symptoms and stimulate nerve outgrowth in some cases.
The dose of the fish oil supplements ranges from 2400 mg to 5400 mg depending on the severity of disorder.
5. N-Acetyl Cysteine
N-Acetyl cysteine is an antioxidant as well as an amino acid. One of the medicinal uses of N acetyl cysteine is treat diabetes induced peripheral neuropathy. Acetyl cysteine is found in food rich in protein. The recommended dose of N acetyl cysteine is 1200 mg that can be taken in two divided doses.
A study done in the year 2010 reveals that N-Acetylcysteine is one of the successful therapies diabetic neuropathy. It not only diminishes the symptoms of neuropathy but also improves motor coordination.
Exercise is also essential in managing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. But inform your physician before starting a workout, especially if you are on medications that lower sugar levels in the blood. People suffering from diabetes should opt for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week. For instance, go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes for atleast 5 days per week.
It is recommended to sip water before, during, and after the physical activity to avoid dehydration. But do not forget to wear comfortable and supportive shoes.