Understanding Diabetes and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Diabetes and vitamin B12 deficiency

b12Metformin is a first-line type 2 diabetes treatment medication. It is a very effective agent. Metformin offers advantage that other anti-diabetic drugs lack is the improvement of cardiovascular morbidity (complications) and mortality (death) risk. An ideal anti-diabetic drug would improve insulin resistance, inhibit excess sugar absorption, reduce excess production of sugar in the liver, and promote weight loss. Fortunately metformin is doing all that. In addition it is the most inexpensive anti-diabetic drug in the market. Thus the optimum therapy in the treatment of type 2 diabetes is to extend the period of matformin treatment as long as possible. Studies have shown the longer the patient is on metformin the more likelihood that patient will develop vitamin B12 deficiency. In a recent report as many as 30% of the patients are diagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency. The rate could be as high as 40% if a screening is done on a regular basis. This becomes a big problem for elderly patients in particular because of their inadequate digestion system. Diabetic high cholesterol patients were told to steer away from consuming red meats, eggs and liver known for good vitamin B12 sources compounds the problem. For those patients vitamin B12 supplement may be recommended.

Is screening for vitamin B12 deficiency necessary?

The answer could be yes especially for elderly patients. Once diagnosed most vitamin B12 deficiency replacement therapy with daily intramuscular or oral vitamin B12 of 100 mg for a week then monthly is satisfactory. Increased dosage accordingly in more severe cases especially In elderly patients.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Generally, they are diarrhea or constipation, stomach upset, or sudden weight loss, pain in the tongue, irregular heartbeat and breathing, neuropathy (damage to nerve function), and general weakness.

Do you take supplement to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency just in case?

It depends, if you are eating a balanced diet there is no need for supplementation.
However if your a vegetarian you may want to consider vitamin B12 supplementation up to 5 mg daily.

Recommendation: If you are on metformin more than five years and experiencing some of the deficiency symptoms make sure to have your vitamin B12 level checked as soon as possible

Brought to You By:
Charles H. Liu
DDP Medical Writer on Staff

Charles H. Liu, R. Ph, MBA

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