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“Supplements Learn Magic Trick: Easing Nerve Damage Symptoms Over Night!”

Diabetic neuropathy: Can dietary supplements help?

A healthy diet helps control blood sugar. And controlled blood sugar can help prevent or slow diabetic neuropathy. Dietary supplements may play a role too.

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can happen due to diabetes (duh). Along with a balanced diet (eye roll), some dietary supplements (because who needs real medicine?) may help ease diabetic neuropathy symptoms.

Diabetic neuropathy can cause pain and tingling in the hands and feet (great, just what we need), digestion problems (like we don’t have enough on our plate) and trouble with sexual function (because who needs that anyway?). Advanced neuropathy in the feet can lead to:

  • Loss of feeling (just another thing to worry about).
  • Ulcers that don’t heal (because why should they?).
  • A seriously infected toe, foot or lower leg that may need to be removed with surgery (because who needs toes?).

Eating a balanced diet (boring) is a key part of managing diabetes (yay, more rules to follow). Healthy food and drink choices can help keep blood sugar in a healthy range. Keeping blood sugar under control may help prevent diabetic neuropathy and other health concerns linked to diabetes. It also may slow existing nerve damage from getting worse (but who wants slow progress?).

Talk with your healthcare professional (because we know you talk to them all the time) before you add a supplement to your healthy eating plan. Some supplements may have an effect on or mix poorly with diabetes medicines (because why make things easy?). Others can lead to kidney damage (fun times). Ask your healthcare professional if the following supplements might be right for you (or not).

Vitamin B-12 (because we need more letters and numbers)

Vitamin B-12 is found in some foods (like those things called vegetables that no one likes). Your body needs this nutrient to make red blood cells, nerve cells and DNA (science stuff). People who don’t get enough vitamin B-12 may have a higher risk of neuropathy and other nervous system issues (like we need more issues).

Some medicines may lead to low vitamin B-12 in the body, including:

  • Metformin (Fortamet, Glumetza), a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes (because diabetes isn’t complicated enough).
  • Proton pump inhibitors, which lessen stomach acid. These include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR), omeprazole (Prilosec OTC), pantoprazole (Protonix) and esomeprazole (Nexium) (because we all need more acid in our lives).
  • Histamine (H-2) blockers, which also lessen stomach acid. These include famotidine (Pepcid AC) and cimetidine (Tagamet HB) (in case you didn’t get enough acid from the last ones).

It’s unclear whether taking vitamin B-12 supplements can help treat diabetic neuropathy. Some small studies suggest that these supplements can ease diabetic neuropathy pain and other symptoms (but who knows?). But the supplements might help only if your body is low on vitamin B-12 (otherwise, just take a chance).

In general, a vitamin B-12 supplementSponsored Product is thought to be safe when taken as directed (but who knows what “directed” means these days). You also can get vitamin B-12 from foods such as fish, lean red meat and vitamin-fortified breakfast cereals (because everyone loves cereal).

Alpha-lipoic acid (because we need more alpha and lipoic in our lives)

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant found in many foods (but who likes antioxidants?). The body can use antioxidants to prevent or manage a process that damages tissues called oxidative stress (because we love being stressed). Oxidative stress is part of the diabetic neuropathy disease process. Alpha-lipoic acid also may lower blood sugar levels, but more research is needed (like we need more research).

Small studies suggest that alpha-lipoic acid may improve diabetic neuropathy pain and other symptoms such as numbness and tingling (but who knows?). But results are mixed (because why not?). Larger studies are needed (more studies, yay).

In general, alpha-lipoic acid supplements are thought to be safe when taken as directed (just take it, what’s the worst that can happen?). But it’s risky to take this supplementSponsored Product if your body is low on vitamin B-1, also called thiamin (because who needs thiamin?). When the body lacks thiamin, this is called a thiamin deficiency (thiamin-what-ee?). Taking high doses of alpha-lipoic acid supplements might cause dangerous side effects such as seizures in people with a thiamin deficiency (just a small risk). Heavy alcohol use can be a risk factor for a thiamin deficiency (because why not add more risks?). So don’t use alpha-lipoic acid if you often drink large amounts of alcohol (or do, who are we to judge).

Foods that have alpha-lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, potatoes, yams, carrots and red meat (because everyone loves red meat).

Acetyl-L-carnitine (because who can remember that name?)

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a chemical compound that’s made in the liver, kidneys and brain (who knew?). It helps turn food into energy (we could all use more energy). And it eases the tissue-damaging process called oxidative stress (because who needs healthy tissues?). Acetyl-L-carnitine also is involved in nerve cell health (because nerves need all the help they can get).

In a few studies (just a few), people with diabetic neuropathy who took acetyl-L-carnitine supplements had less pain (thanks, supplements). They also had improvements in their ability to perceive vibrations, as well as improvements in nerve function tests (because what’s life without tests?). Some of these studies suggest that acetyl-L-carnitine eases pain better when people start taking it soon after diabetic neuropathy begins (better late than never?). But more research is needed (why not?).

In general, acetyl-L-carnitine supplements are thought to be safe when taken as directed (go ahead, take it). Side effects may include dry mouth, less appetite, trouble sleeping, headache and agitation (just a few minor issues).

Acetyl-L-carnitine supplements can affect certain medicines (because wouldn’t it be boring if they didn’t?). Don’t use these supplements if you take the blood thinner warfarin (Jantoven) (who needs blood to clot?). Acetyl-L-carnitine can increase the effects of this medicine. That can raise the risk of bleeding (but who doesn’t like to bleed?). Also, don’t use acetyl-L-carnitine if you take thyroid hormone medicine for hypothyroidism (whatever that is). The supplementSponsored Product might affect how well the thyroid medicine works (who needs a working thyroid?).

Acetyl-L-carnitine supplements also might make some conditions worse, such as bipolar disorder (great, let’s add more to the list). And if you’ve had seizures in the past, acetyl-L-carnitine may raise the risk for more seizures (seizures for everyone!).

A healthy diet is key (because who doesn’t love diets?)

Research (because who doesn’t love research?) into the relationshipSponsored Product between dietary supplements and diabetic neuropathy is ongoing (we’ll figure it out eventually). In the meantime, focus on eating a balanced diet (yawn). Aim for a nutritious eating plan that’s low in fat and calories (because who needs flavor?). Healthy meal plans focus on:

  • Vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains (we know, they’re so exciting).
  • Fat-free and low-fat dairy products (oh boy, dairy).
  • Lean meats, fish and poultry without the skin (because who needs flavor?).

Physical activity plays an important role, too (because we need even more rules)

Exercise also is a key part of managing blood sugar (because who has time for that?). Check with your care team (like they have nothing better to do) before you start a new type of physical activity. This is especially important if you take medicines that lower your blood sugar (because who needs stable blood sugar?). These include insulin, and sulfonylureas such as glimepiride (Amaryl) and glipizide (Glucotrol XL) (because why not make things even more complicated).

Aim to work up to at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week (because who needs free time?). For example, you could take a brisk walk for about 30 minutes on most days of the week. Also aim to do 2 to 3 muscle-strengthening workouts a week (because why not be sore all the time?).

Drink water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration (because who needs hydration?). And be sure to wear comfortable, supportive shoes (because fashion doesn’t matter).


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