People With Diabetes ¹
You may not be aware that the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes—up to 50% of people with diabetes develop nerve damage. One of the reasons for this is that diabetes is often associated with high levels of blood sugar, which in turn can lead to nerve damage.
Blood sugar control is important for preventing nerve damage, but it’s also important to be aware that metformin—a common diabetes medication—can contribute to vitamin B deficiency, which is another known cause of nerve damage. Vitamin B deficiency can be treated with a vitamin B complex such as Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) or Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION® Forte).
Another source of risk for people with diabetes is the high level of oxidative stress that the condition can cause. This may damage the small blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.
Other risk factors for nerve damage in diabetic patients include smoking, alcohol use and age—diabetics aged 40 and over have a higher risk of developing neuropathy.
Studies show that peripheral neuropathy is more frequent in aged populations. Although the reasons for this can be multiple and still not fully understood, one factor may be that—for a variety of possible reasons—the ability to absorb vitamins can decline with age. This may be one of the reasons why elderly people have more chances of B12, B6 and B1 vitamin deficiencies. As these vitamins are essential for the health of the nervous system, deficiency can lead to nerve impairments.
People With Special Diets ³ ⁴
Special diets or malnutrition can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins such as the neurotropic B vitamins, which play a very important role in nerve health. For example, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may have a higher risk of B12 vitamin deficiency, which has been reported to cause peripheral neuropathy. If you are unable to get enough vitamin B or any other vitamins from your diet, supplements may be one way of helping to repair the nerve damage and protect against further damage.
People With Alcohol Use ³ ⁵
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol (alcohol abuse) negatively affects your health, including nerves, because alcohol can have a toxic effect on your nerve tissue. Additionally, heavy drinking is often associated with malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies, including B12, B1 and B6. In other words, drinking too much can lower your neurotropic B vitamins levels. People with alcoholic neuropathy may be able to relieve their current symptoms and protect against further damage by stopping drinking and supplementing their diet with B vitamins.
Smokers ³ ⁶ ⁷
Are you a smoker? Be careful. Smoking narrows and hardens your arteries, reducing blood flow to your legs and feet and may also be associated with a high risk of nerve damage.
Other At-Risk Groups ³
The list above only covers the main groups with an elevated risk of developing peripheral neuropathy. There are many other factors associated with a higher risk of nerve impairment, including:
Chronic liver or kidney disease
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
An underactive thyroid gland
Prolonged exposure to toxic substances
Certain medicines and medical treatments
Some inherited (genetic) health conditions.
In Short ⁹
Nerve health is important for everyone, but if you’re in one of the groups with a higher risk of peripheral neuropathy, it’s even more vital to take care of your nerves. If you do notice any nerve damage symptoms, such as tusok-tusok (tingling) or manhid (numbness) in the hands or feet, see you doctor straight away for a diagnosis and early treatment to ensure the best possible outcome and quality of life.