Common diabetes drug linked to vitamin B12 deficiency

Metformin therapy used to treat type 2 diabetes is associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, according to research published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta analyzed data from about 8,500 adults aged 50 years and older with and without type 2 diabetes.

The study found that 5.8 percent of patients with diabetes using metformin had a biochemical deficiency of vitamin B12. This compares with 2.4 percent of people with diabetes not using metformin and 3.3 percent of people without diabetes.

Researchers found that the patients with diabetes who consumed vitamin B12 supplements did not reduce their biochemical B12 deficiency. However, those without diabetes who took B12 supplements reduced their B12 deficiency by two-thirds.

Symptoms
People with vitamin B12 deficiency experience fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Sometimes they have numbness and tingling in the hand and feet. Other symptoms include poor balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory and soreness of the mouth or tongue.

The most common causes of vitamin B12 deficiency in the general public include vitamin B12 malabsorption from food, pernicious anemia, postsurgical malabsorption, and dietary deficiency. However, the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is unknown in many cases, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Vitamin B12 in the diet is found in animal products like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Beef liver, clams, trout, and salmon and some of good food sources of vitamin B12.

The vitamin is usually not found in plant-based foods. However, foods like fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast may contain vitamin B12.

The research study also found that the amount of B12 commonly found in general multivitamins may not be enough to correct the deficiency to the level recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

Sources: Diabetes Care, National Institutes of Health

photo by Ragesoss

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