Diabetes Self-Management Blog

Vitamin D lessens pain in women who have Type 2 diabetes and depression, according to new research presented at a recent conference at Loyola University’s Health Sciences Campus. Up to 60% of people with diabetes deal with chronic pain, according to surveys, and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have depression as those without diabetes.

Two types of vitamin D are important in humans: vitamin D2, which is made by plants, and vitamin D3, which is made by human skin when it is exposed to the sun. Foods may be fortified with either type of vitamin D.

To determine how vitamin D2 supplementation affects both depression and pain in Type 2 diabetes, Loyola researchers evaluated the effectiveness of six months of weekly supplementation with a very high dose of vitamin D2 in 46 women with Type 2 diabetes. At the start of the study, 61% of the participants reported shooting or burning pain in their legs and feet due to neuropathy, while 74% reported sensory pain in their hands, fingers, and legs such as numbness and tingling.

The researchers found that depression in the women decreased significantly after supplementation with vitamin D2. Additionally, both neuropathic and sensory pain were found to decrease substantially at both three months and six months into the study.

“Pain is a common and often serious problem for women with Type 2 diabetes and depression. While further research is needed, D2 supplementation is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in Type 2 diabetes,” noted lead study author Todd Doyle, PhD.

The researchers have received funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research to conduct a study comparing the effects of two doses of vitamin D3 supplements on health in women with diabetes.

For more information, read the articles “Vitamin D ‘reduces pain and depression’ in type 2 diabetic women” or see the press release from Loyola University. And to learn more about dealing with pain, read the article “Managing Chronic Pain,” by nurse David Spero.

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