Association between vitamin D and diabetic neuropathy in a nationally representative sample: results from 2001-2004 NHANES

Diabet Med. 2012 Jan;29(1):50-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03379.x.


Aims: To evaluate the association between vitamin D insufficiency and peripheral neuropathy in a nationally representative sample of adults with diagnosed diabetes.

Methods: Vitamin D concentrations, medical examination variables and questionnaire results from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analysed for adults ≥ 40 years old with diagnosed diabetes (unweighted n = 591, weighted n = 8.82 million). Neuropathy was defined as self report of peripheral neuropathy symptoms of painful sensation, tingling, numbness or loss of feeling in hands or feet. Additionally, Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test results were used as an indicator of neuropathy. Insufficient vitamin D was characterized as < 30 ng/ml.

Results: In the weighted population, 81% of adults with diabetes had vitamin D insufficiency. Vitamin D insufficiency was more common among Hispanics (92%) and non-Hispanic black people (98%) than among non-Hispanic white people (76%). Within the 3 months preceding the questionnaire, 50% reported experiencing pain or numbness (paresthesia) in their hands or feet; 37% reported pain or tingling in hands or feet; and 38% reported numbness or loss of feeling in hands or feet. Eight per cent had 4-6 insensate areas on their feet as determined by the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test. Logistic regressions demonstrate vitamin D insufficiency is associated with the adjusted composite paresthesia measure (odds ratio 2.12; 95% CI 1.17-3.85) and the adjusted numbness measure (odds ratio 2.04; 95% CI 1.18-3.52).

Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with self-reported peripheral neuropathy symptoms even after adjusting for demographic factors, obesity, co-morbidities, use of medications for neuropathy and diabetes duration and control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / ethnology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / ethnology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / etiology
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / ethnology
  • Whites / ethnology*


  • Vitamin D