Diabetes is spreading like a bushfire across the globe, but even if governments, doctors, and health authorities have tried desperately to bend the curve, they have not succeeded so far. On the contrary. Today, diabetes is controlled with help from different medical drugs that do not address the underlying cause and actually affect or organ systems. Because of this, diabetics often have impaired quality of life and shorter lifespans than healthy individuals. What is more, diabetics have widespread vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies, which are associated with diabetic neuropathy, which is a serious complication. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) are also linked to reduced levels of Q10, a compound that is necessary for energy turnover, the heart, and the cardiovascular system.
Around 415 million humans globally are affected by diabetes, and the number is expected to grow to 642 million by 2040. An even greater number have early stages of the disease like insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome without knowing it. Diabetes affects the majority of organ systems, and damage to the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels are a direct cause of impaired quality of life, shorter lifespan, and enormous health care costs.
Diabetic neuropathy is caused by inflammation and damage to the nervous system that controls our cardiovascular function. The damage typically affects the nerves and blood vessels in the feet and legs, in some cases leading to amputations. It can also affect urination, bowel control, and sexual function.
Diabetic neuropathy is insidious and is often overlooked because the symptoms do not show until the late stages of the disease. Diabetic neuropathy is associat4ed with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality caused by failing circulation and other factors.
|Diabetic neuropathy is associated with increased morbidity, amputations, and premature death. It is also known as diabetic cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN)|
Diabetic neuropathy is preventable in its early stages
Smoking, elevated cholesterol levels, and hypertension are risk factors of diabetic neuropathy. An estimated 20-60 percent of diabetics suffer from this complication. In its late stages, diabetic neuropathy is irreversible, and nothing can stop it. However, the condition has been seen to be reversible in its early stages, and one can even stop it from progressing. It is therefore of vital importance to explore potential risk factors and look closer at ways to prevent this complication.
Lack of vitamin B12 and vitamin D are linked to diabetic neuropathy
According to research carried out by Christian Stevns Hansen, a Danish physician, low levels of vitamin B12 and vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of diabetic neuropathy. Vitamin B12 is a vital building block of cells and their DNA, and the vitamin is also important for the nervous system, for energy levels, and for blood formation.
People with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of lacking vitamin B12, which is because their condition is often treated with metformin, a medical drug that blocks the body’s vitamin B12 uptake. The link between vitamin B12 and diabetic neuropathy was shown in a study of 469 type 2 diabetics from a diabetes treatment center. The results revealed a significant and linear correlation between vitamin B12 levels and diabetic neuropathy plus several other markers of cardiac nerve function. In other words, lack of vitamin B12 was associated with impaired nerve function.
Levels of vitamin D in the blood are also associated with an inreased risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. For instance, vitamin D is important for controlling genes and inflammation. Christian Stevns Hansen and his team of scientists studies 13 patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and found an inverse U-shaped relation meaning that both high and low levels of vitamin D were linked to impaired nerve function.
Other studies show that diabetics have difficulty with utilizing vitamin D, and that magnesium is requried to activate vitamin D precursors from the sun, from dietary sources, and from supplements.
New perspectives in the prevention and treatment of diabetic neuropathy
Christian Stevns Hansen’s research points to inexpensive and safe vitamin supplements as a new potential treatment for diabetic neuropathy. If further studies show the expected results, screening and treating diabetes patients for vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiencies may be the future. Not only will this benefit the individual patient, it will also be a boon to society in general.
According to an earlier American study, people with higher blood levels of vitamin D are far less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (an early stage of type 2 diabetes), which is characterized by insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels.
It takes many years for type 2 diabetes to develop, so it is really important that you make sure to have sufficiently high blood levels of vitamin D at all times. According to existing research, it is impossible to obtain the required levels of vitamin D without generous sun exposure during the summer period and high-dosed vitamin D supplements during the winter. Your practitioner can measure your levels of B12 and vitamin D to make sure they are sufficiently high.
Diabetes, cholesterol-lowering medicine and Q10
Diabetes and metabolic syndrome are linked to elevated cholesterol levels, which is treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) that work by blocking HMG-CoA (a liver enzyme). This enzyme is also involved in the synthesis of coenzyme Q10. Therefore, statins inhibit the body’s endogenous Q10 synthesis, which is problematic as Q10 is in cellular energy turnover and works as a powerful antioxidant. The impaired Q10 synthesis tends to affect organs that depend greatly on energy such as the heart, the muscles, and the nervous system. Statins are known to cause a host of side effects such as fatigue, poor concentration, muscle pain, and lack of vitality. Other side effects may eventually turn up because Q10 is a very important antioxidant that counteracts oxidative stress, which is a caused by a free radical overload. Diabetes in itself increased the risk of oxidative stress, which is a particularly big problem in diabetic neuropathy.
A large review article has shown that daily supplementation with 100 mg of Q10 for three months significantly reduced inflammation in diabetic neuropathy. Another study has shown that 200 mg of Q10 daily for three months reduces oxidative stress and the risk of complications such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Also, the use of statins (simvastatin in particular) increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 10-40 percent. In fact, it is a bit ironic that statins increase the risk of diabetes, which in itself increases the risk of atherosclerosis and heart failure.
|Q10 supplements generally have poor bioavailability. Make sure to buy a product with documented bioavailability so you don’t waste your money|
Christian Stevns Hansen. Almindelige vitaminer og mineraler er forbundne med alvorlige komplikationer hos diabetes patienter. Formidling af Ph.d. afhandlingen: Exploring new risk markers for diabetic cadiovascular autnomic neuropathy.
Scott LaFee. Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Greater Risk of Diabetes. UC San Diego Health. April 2018
Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin concentration and risk of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. 12-year cohort study. PLoS One 2018
Eneida Boteon Schmitt et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women. Maturitas 2018
Qi Dai el al. Abstract CT093: Bimodal relationship between magnesium supplementation and vitamin D status and metabolism: Results from randomized trial. Cancer Research July 2018
Anne Marie Uwitonze, Mohammed S Razzaque. Role of magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. The Journal of the American Osteopatic Association. 2018
David Mantle and Iain Hargreaves. Coenzyme Q10 and Degenerative Disorders Affecting Longevity: An Overview. Antioxidants (Basel) Published online 2019 Feb
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