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.


  1. At 64 yrs I completely reversed my Diabetes Type 2 by: 1 Stop eating foods with “Trans Fats”. 2 Replenish the fat membrane in my cells with natural essential fats from a fistful of Walnuts per day. 3 Do for 7 months … my DT2 completely reversed. Wrote a short eBooklet free on Kindle Prime called “The Walnut Cure for Diabetes Type2″ Hope it helps someone.

    Posted by Raymond Neville |
  2. What dose of Vitamin D2 showed significant result in decrease in neuropathic pain? and improvement in depression?

    Posted by Laura |
  3. I take alpha lipid acid that seems to help

    Posted by Monica Stewart |
  4. What dosage of D2 and D3 is recommended for a 200 lb. male with type II?

    Posted by John Coker |
  5. Why are diabetic men being excluded from this research? Seems to me that more men have diabetes type 2 than women. I know several men who are diabetics and only one woman. Is D2 the predominant supplement or is the treatment a combination or the two?

    Posted by Greg |
  6. How about D3 ? Is there study to exam incidence of Vit D deficiency in diabetic patients? There is evidence Vit D deficiency may contribute to DM and CV events.

    Posted by Tien C. Cheng, MD |
  7. The article cited gives the impression that Vit. D (which is actually a hormone) can be generated in our skin at all times of the year, no matter what latitude you live at. Where I live, in Minnesota, the angle of incident sunshine on the skin is too low for approximately six months of the year to do this. The thick atmospheric wedge sunlight must go through results in the absorption of the UV-B rays that cause Vit. D generation.

    And, yes, I take Vit. D supplements to account for this. I also try to have the level of active Vit. D in my blood tested by my physician on a yearly basis.

    Posted by Mike Schoenberg |
  8. I’ve also heard that most diabetics are vitamin D deficient. I asked my doctor about taking it and she gave me the old “the FDA hasn’t approved it” schpiel…then when I did bloodwork, it showed that I was (drumroll please….) VITAMIN D DEFICIENT! Smh…I’ve also heard good things about a B vitamin (Benfotiamine) and R alpha lipoic acid. It is not in the best interest of doctors of western medicine to explore the benefits of vitamin supplementation, etc. It hits them in the pocket and they can’t send their children to Ivy League schools, lol…it’s also very difficult to find a doctor who practices holistic and homeopathic medicine for whom insurance covers.

    Posted by Terri |

    Posted by JOHN RUSSO |
  10. My Endocrinologist (who also happens to be a diabetes researcher) routinely checks all her patients for Vitamin D deficiency. Partly because she has seen a large percentage of her patients suffer from it, and partly because she herself is chronically deficient. I had severe deficiency, and was given a prescription dose of 25,000 IUs once a week for four weeks. Once I was stable, I switched to an OTC supplement, 800 IU per day; along with a calcium supplement, which I also have a deficiency in -as do many people with low Vitamin D.

    As for high dosages, I have read the maximum safe dose (not recommended) is supposed to be around 4,000 IU daily. More than that can apparently lead to toxicity over time.

    Posted by Joe |
  11. so still nobody responded to what vitamin d to get or how much of it 2 use. i am a male with type 2 diabetes and yes have neuropathy and i take metformin as well as noraton and i still have problems with my feet hurting and the tingling in my hands :( so again i ask what vitamin d will help with this. if anybody really reads this and knows the answer please write me and no can’t afford really expensive medications and i am about 240 anyway hope someone can help me figure this out


    and yes i am real

    Posted by bob |
  12. I too, would like to know why men were excluded from this research. And has there been any tests that did include men related to vitamin D?

    Posted by Anthony |
  13. I read the article,and I think that the testing was only done on women, but for no apparent reason except that it happen to be tested on women, because the article talks about people in general having pain and neuropathy. I believe that the vitamin D would work on both men and women. I believe that the testing just happen to use women for the research and meant nothing bad against men. Although why they never told us how much Vitamin D to use for men or women it would have been nice.

    Posted by Andrea Hughes |
  14. Vitamin D helps relieve pain among diabetic patients with neuropathy
    Vitamin D helps relieve pain among diabetic patients with neuropathy

    A research letter published in the April 14, 2008 issue of the American Medical Association journal Archives of Internal Medicine reported that vitamin D supplementation reduced pain levels in patients with diabetic neuropathy. The condition occurs when high levels of glucose damage the nerves, and can include burning, tingling, numbness, and throbbing sensations.

    Drs Paul Lee and Roger Chen of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital in New South Wales, Australia enrolled 51 type 2 diabetics with neuropathy for the study. Pain severity was rated via two questionnaires and serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D and parathyroid hormone levels were measured at the beginning and end of the treatment period. All participants were found to have insufficient levels of vitamin D at less than 24 nanograms per cubic milliliter at the study’s onset, and were given a mean dose of 2,059 IU of the vitamin for three months.

    Lower pain scores were found to be correlated with higher levels of serum vitamin D but not with parathyroid hormone levels. Treatment with vitamin D resulted in a 48.5 percent reduction in pain scores on the first questionnaire and a 39.4 percent reduction on the second by the end of three months.

    Drs Lee and Chen remark that there is evidence that vitamin D promotes nerve growth and modulates neuromuscular function and neuronal growth and differentiation. Having inadequate levels of the vitamin could increase nerve damage and impair pain receptor function. They note that vitamin D supplements are unlikely to have harmful effects and may also benefit bone health and glycemic control in diabetic patients.

    To the authors’ knowledge, the study is the first of its kind to address the effect of vitamin D on patients with diabetic neuropathic pain. “Vitamin D insufficiency is underrecognized and may be a significant contributor to neuropathic pain in type 2 diabetes,” they conclude. “Vitamin D supplementation may be an effective ‘analgesic’ in relieving neuropathic pain.”

    Posted by Andrea Hughes |
  15. Maybe the article on Vitamin D will set the men at ease about Vitamin D being good for anyone to take for pain regardless of gender and not just women. Sorry I don’t know how much though. I would go by what the women were told to take though, as you can over dose on vitamins too if your not careful.

    Posted by Andrea Hughes |
  16. Thanks for the support John Russo! ;)

    Posted by Terri |
  17. I started taking Vitamin D years ago due top a 16 level of Vitamin D. My ex-doctor was concerned when I took over 2,000 IU’w, but I have been taking 5,000 IU daily for 2 years. It took 5,000 IU’s daily for 6 months to get up above 40, and now I maintain about 55. The lesson here is it takes a high dose or a smaller dose for a long time. Biological systems are slow to respond. I am 6′1″ 200 pound male if you want to match my dose. Not sure this helped my neuropathy as my tingling toes started when I was taking the 5,000 dose….sorry for the bad news.

    Posted by Steve |
  18. I am a Holistic Nutritionist and former T2 diabetic. I have found that most of my clients are deficient in vitamin D. I myself scored a 27 on the 25(OH)D,vitamin D3 scale. That was even below the “deficient” level (30nmol/L)which made me a candidate for rickets!

    Such a low score is not unusual for an African American, in fact in the past year and a half, I have only found 1 African American with a vit D level above the 30 mark and one client’s level was Zero, undetectable! The reason for this deficiency among African Americans is not hereditary, it is because of our skin color, which screens out the UVB rays that produce vit D in the skin, combined with the weaker sun rays available in the higher latitudes. I take 10,000IU of vit D3 daily, which is the more active, longer lasting D vitamin. My D level after 12 months is now 55. When I get to my target, 70nmol/L,I will cut back to 3,000IU Day. Maybe this will answer some of the questions about which D and how much to take.

    Posted by Bill Young |
  19. My health care provider put me on Vit D2 1.25 mg or
    50,000 units once a week when my levels scored deficient. She also put me on L-Methyl-B6-B12 tablet (brand name Metanx) which has been shown to help reverse the nerve damage. I was having severe pain so that I was unable to sleep. She tried me on Lyrica too but at high enough doses it made me too loopy to work. So we cut it back to 25 mg twice a day and also continuing with the two nutritional supplements. This has at least helped me to sleep and function better. Don’t want to take anything stronger than Arthritis Strength tylenol and tramadol (Ultram). This regimen seems to work well for my pain.

    Posted by Valerie |

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