NeuropathyWhy take supplements when I am fit and in pink of health? What are those supplements for? Why take a supplement for neuropathy when I can walk or jog for miles?

Feeling good that you’re in a good health, being agile and alert all the time will not guarantee that somehow you will reach your pinnacle of being strong all the time because unexpectedly, illness will knock you down without prior notice. This unsettling occurrence of contracting an illness, treatable or not, communicable or not will create fear that consumes your entire being. But don’t push that panic button yet. Get hold of your hysteria because if one takes supplements, upkeeps your health and protects body system against infections that lead to the weakening of the nerves that hamper one’s movement.

Nerves can be likened to a mesh of entwined wires that facilitate the movement of the muscles. The movement of the body will be incapacitated if the nerves will be dysfunctional; therefore, nerve supplements are needed not only to boost the body immune system but likewise to keep the nerve’s ability to carry their duty.

What is neuropathy?

  • Neuropathy is a common disorder that stems from damage to the peripheral nerves, especially those that branch out through the arms, legs, fingers, and toes (1).
  • Neuropathy is a term that refers to general diseases or malfunctions of the nerves, which can be a damaged from injury or disease (2).
  • Neuropathy is often classified according to the types or locations of nerves that are affected or according to the disease causing it (3).
  • Neuropathy symptoms include weakness, numbness, tingling, and burning or painful sensations (4).

Read our Ultimate Guide: What Is Neuropathy? Causes, Prevention & Remedy Options

Neuropathy affects people of all ages wherein older people are at increased risk. People in certain professions, such as those that require repetitive motions, have a greater chance of developing compression-related neuropathy (5). Taking neuropathy supplements are available in the market to keep such condition at bay.

Best Supplements for Neuropathy:

Alpha Lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is useful in treating neuropathy caused by diabetes or cancer treatment. It lowers blood sugar levels, improves nerve function, and relieves uncomfortable symptoms in the legs and arms (6).

In supplement form, it has shown benefit for various forms of oxidation and inflammation that protects against heart diseases, liver diseases, diabetes, and neurological decline associated with aging (7). The role of oxidative stress in nerve damage has been extensively studied in experimental and clinical diabetes. Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to improve motor-nerve conduction velocity in experimental diabetic neuropathy, and to protect peripheral nerves from ischemia in rats (8). Side effects of this supplement are generally rare and may include insomnia, fatigue, diarrhea, and skin rash (9).

B-Vitamins

A kind of B-Vitamin is Vitamin B-12. As a supplement, it can help treat diabetic neuropathy. Some small studies have shown a lessening of pain and other abnormal sensations (10). Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a number of serious conditions including peripheral neuropathy. A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerves and can lead to the inability of the nerves to function properly, thus, causing peripheral neuropathy. Supplementation of these vitamins can avoid it from happening.

In addition, metformin, drug treatment of diabetes, is associated with the worsening of diabetic neuropathy due to the inhibition of folic acid and B12 absorption. This malabsorption of B12 and decreased folate levels associated with metformin result in an increased homocysteine level and increased risk of neuropathy (11). The administration of B12 may be associated with a reversal of these effects.

Other B-Vitamins great as neuropathy supplement include vitamin B-1 (thiamine and benfotiamine) and B-6. Supplementing with B vitamins promotes nerve repair because it can speed up nerve tissue regeneration and improve nerve function, according to a 2017 review (12).

Acetyl-L-carnitine

neuropathy in feetAcetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), a naturally occurring amino acid, maybe an ideal therapeutic agent that is potentially effective at preventing peripheral neuropathy as well as lessening neuropathic symptoms once they have developed (13). Both animal and human data consistently demonstrate the neuroprotective and antinociceptive effects of ALC (14). According to a British study published in the July 23rd edition of AIDS, acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC) improves the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and promotes nerve regeneration (15).

Side effects for using ALC as a supplement are generally mild. When taken at high doses may cause diarrhea and other rare side effects include increased appetite, body odor, and rash (16).

N-Acetyl cysteine

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that benefits in peripheral neuropathy by protecting nerve health from oxidative stress and neurotoxicity. It reduces inflammation and relieves neuropathic pain. A 2010 animal study revealed that N-Acetyl cysteine may be useful in treating diabetic neuropathy as it reduced neuropathic pain and improved motor coordination.

It also contains antioxidant properties that improved nerve damage from oxidative stress and apoptosis (17). Pre-clinical research shows that NAC treatment reduces oxidative damage caused by high blood sugar levels in diabetic neuropathy and prevents damage to nerve cells (18).

Taking this supplement can result to some side effects like cause rashes, fever, headache, drowsiness, low blood pressure, and liver problems. Also, N-acetyl cysteine has an unpleasant odor that may make it hard to take.

Curcumin

Curcumin can prevent diabetic neuropathy by lowering blood sugar levels, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. The diabetic neuropathic pain is reduced by reducing inflammation and even activating the natural opioid system in the body to release natural analgesic agents in the body (19).

Clinical studies reveal that curcumin, in combination with conventional anti-diabetic drugs, can alleviate diabetic neuropathy symptoms as effectively as gabapentin and conventional diabetes medications (20). For healthy neurons, nerve cell repair and growth is important.

In studies conducted on animals, curcumin is found to induce neurogenesis, or the growth of nerve cells, in adults. By promoting cell growth, turmeric may help to boost the health of our nervous systems (21).

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation (PUFA) is reported to be associated with a range of general health benefits. In animal models of experimental peripheral nerve injury, increasing endogenous levels of omega-3 PUFAs have been shown to improve sciatic blood flow and accelerate the recovery of neuronal function (22).

Oral omega-3 PUFA supplementation for improving peripheral nerve health is found effective in a study. Omega-3 supplements may improve measures of peripheral nerve function and quality of life (23). Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, have the potential to protect nerves from injury and help them to regenerate, according to research from Queen Mary, University of London (24). This supplement would be easy to take, like a vitamin, and should have few side effects when combined with other medications.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E can help in peripheral neuropathy by relieving nerve pain. Vitamin E deficiency may lead to neurological complications such as peripheral neuropathy or demyelinating motor sensory neuropathy which can be reversed by long-term therapy with high dose vitamin E (25). While the primary neurologic deficit in vitamin E deficiency is a spinocerebellar syndrome, there is often a concomitant large fiber sensory-predominant axonal peripheral neuropathy. Vitamin E deficiency occurs when there is severe fat malabsorption or genetic disorders.

Strategies to treat vitamin E deficiency include improving fat absorption and oral vitamin E supplementation (26). Rarely, oral use of vitamin E can cause nausea, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, fatigue and rash (27).

Reminders

You can shop the right neuropathy supplement that will cater to your health needs. The variety of options you are given will help decide which supplement to take. But it is always best to consult your health practitioner. Remember a supplement a day may keep the neurologist away!