Diabetes and nerve health

3 minutes read

Did you know diabetes can affect your nerves and cause poor nerve health? As a common complication of diabetes, poor nerve health carries risks you need to know about and precautions you need to take – especially if you have diabetes. Read on to learn more about the relationship between diabetes and poor nerve health, the vital role that Vitamin B plays in keeping you healthy, and how Vitamin B deficiency can be detrimental to your overall health.

In this article:
Diabetes and Nerve Health

Diabetes and Nerve Health in Figures 1-3

All the nerves in your body make up your nervous system, which can be considered your body’s command centre. It controls your movements, thoughts and automatic responses to your environment. It also controls your body’s systems and processes. Considering these facts makes it easy to see why good nerve health is so important. Unfortunately, some people are more at risk of developing poor nerve health than others, including those with diabetes.  

Here are a few key statistics about diabetes and nerve health:  

  • 100% of people with diabetes are at risk of developing poor nerve health 

  • As many as 50% of people with diabetes develop poor nerve health 

  • Up to 50% of people with diabetes who develop poor nerve health don’t experience any symptoms 

  • People with diabetes who develop poor nerve health usually experience symptoms in their arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and toes 

The Role of Vitamin B 4-7

Vitamin B deficiency is prevalent in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It presents diverse clinical manifestations, including poor nerve health. Some B vitamins, called neurotropic B vitamins, have an important role in your nervous system, which means that adequate levels of Vitamin B are crucial to keeping your nerves healthy. In fact, studies have shown that people with diabetes who experience symptoms of poor nerve health have low levels of Vitamin B. Additionally, many people with diabetes who manage their diabetes with a drug called metformin experience low levels of Vitamin B, highlighting how important it is to know your diabetes status and manage your health accordingly.  

Risk Factors for People with Diabetes 5-11

If you have diabetes, here are some risk factors for poor nerve health that you should be aware of: 

Blood Sugar Control 7-9

  • High blood sugar. Research has shown that high blood sugar is a major cause of poor nerve health, so avoiding spikes and keeping blood sugar consistently within your target range is the best way to protect the health of your nerves and blood vessels. 

  • Diabetes medication. Metformin—a frequently prescribed diabetes medication—can cause vitamin B deficiency as a side effect. Vitamin B deficiency is another known cause of poor nerve health. 

Other Risk Factors and Complications 5-11

  • Vitamin B deficiency. A low level of B vitamins, particularly neurotropic B vitamins, can contribute to poor nerve health in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about taking a vitamin B complex such as Neurobion® *

  • Duration of diabetes. Your risk of poor nerve health increases the longer you have diabetes, especially if your blood sugar level isn't well-controlled. 

  • Kidney disease. Diabetes can cause damage to the kidneys, which sends toxins into the blood and can lead to poor nerve health. 

  • Being overweight. Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of poor nerve health. 

  • Smoking. If you have diabetes, cigarettes increase your risk for poor nerve health, so quitting is essential to limit the development of diabetic complications. 

  • High blood pressure. This condition, also known as hypertension, commonly occurs with diabetes. Together they can cause vascular diseases, kidney problems and poor nerve health. 

  • Poor foot care. People with diabetes who experience symptoms of poor nerve health, such as numbness in the lower legs and feet, are at high risk of unknowingly injuring their feet. Left untreated, these injuries can lead to foot ulcers and, in extreme cases, lower limb amputation from infection and subsequent gangrene.  

In Short

Conditions like diabetes never occur in isolation. A multitude of factors usually contribute to a medical condition, and two of these factors for diabetes include Vitamin B deficiency and the poor nerve health that it can cause. As such, it’s essential that you know your health status and that you manage your healthcare condition consistently if you have a serious condition such as diabetes. It’s always best to consult your doctor if you have any concerns, as they can implement appropriate intervention measures tailored to your unique condition. 

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor

Talk to your doctor about the Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) formulation, dose and duration of treatment that is appropriate for you.

Article Sources

¹ Cleveland Clinic. Nervous System [online]. 2020, Dec 05 [2022, Sep 12]. Retrieved from: URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21202-nervous-system#:~:text=What%20does%20the%20nervous%20system,feel%20sensations%2C%20such%20as%20pain.

² Cleveland Clinic. Nervous System [online]. 2020, Dec 05 [2022, Sep 12]. Retrieved from: URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21202-nervous-system#:~:text=What%20does%20the%20nervous%20system,feel%20sensations%2C%20such%20as%20pain.

³ Vinik, A.I., Nevoret, M., Casellini, C., & Parson, H. (2013). Diabetic Neuropathy. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America, 42(4), 747-787.

⁴ Yoshii, K., Hosomi, K., Sawane, K., & Kunisawa, J. (2019). Metabolism of dietary and microbial vitamin B family in the regulation of host immunity. Frontiers in Nutrition, 6, 48.

⁵ Calderón‐Ospina, C.A., & Nava‐Mesa, M.O. (2020). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 26(1), 5-13.

⁶ Alvarez, M., Sierra, O.R., Saavedra, G., & Moreno, S. (2019). Vitamin B12 deficiency and diabetic neuropathy in patients taking metformin: a cross-sectional study. Endocrine Connections, 8(10), 1324-9

⁷ Liu, L., Huang, X., Wang, B., Song, Y., Lin, T., Zhou, Z., … & Yang, Y. (2020). Vitamin B12 and risk of diabetes: new insight from cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of the China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial (CSPPT). BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, 8(1), e001423.

⁸ National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetic Neuropathy [online]. 2018, Feb [cited 2022, Sep 12]. Retrieved from: URL: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies/all-content.

⁹ Mayo Clinic. Diabetic neuropathy: Symptoms & Causes [online]. 2022, Apr 29 [cited 2022, Sep 12]. Retrieved from: URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371580.

¹⁰ Hicks, C. W., & Selvin, E. (2019). Epidemiology of peripheral neuropathy and lower extremity disease in diabetes. Current Diabetes Reports, 19(10), 1-8.

¹¹ Grossman, A., & Grossman, E. (2017). Blood pressure control in type 2 diabetic patients. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 16(1), 1-15.

*Neurobion® is indicated for Vitamin B deficiency.

Applicant: P&G South African Trading (Pty) Ltd. Reg. No.: 1989/004241/07. |S1| Neurobion® Tablets. Each tablet contains Vitamin B1 100 mg, Vitamin B6 200 mg and Vitamin B12 200 μg. Reg. No.: H2487 (Act 101/1965).
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