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Posts Tagged ‘metformin b12’

Type 2 Diabetes and Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Are you at Risk?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012



If you have type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing vitamin B12 deficiency are greater than those of non-diabetics.  That’s because metformin, a popular drug for diabetes interferes with vitamin B12 absorption, causing severe B12 deficiency.  Other causes of vitamin B12 deficiency include pernicious anemia, bariatric surgery, and gastrointestinal disorders.


Vitamin B12- Cobalamin

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in protein-based foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese.  It is one of a group of B vitamins (B complex).  Vitamin B12 performs many crucial functions for your body:

  • Vitamin B12 aids in producing red blood cells
  • Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system
  • Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis
  • Vitamin B12 lowers homocysteine levels, thus reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke
  • Vitamin B12 helps your body convert fat to energy


Metformin- its effect on B12 levels

Metformin, a hypoglycemic drug for treating type 2 diabetes, interferes with your body’s ability to digest vitamin B12.  According to numerous studies, up to 30% of diabetics who take metformin suffer the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Researchers believe that metformin may hinder the production of intrinsic factor, a protein your body uses to grab vitamin B12 from food sources and absorb it into the bloodstream. 

Other suggestions for metformin’s link with B12 deficiency include possible bacterial overgrowth and hindered movement of the small intestines.

Brain Drain Medications- Drugs that Drain the B12 out of you


How much vitamin B12 do you need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 varies by age, and applies to healthy individuals:

  • Infants: .4 mcg to .5 mcg
  • Toddlers: .9 mcg
  • Children, 4-8 yrs. of age: 1.2 mcg
  • Children, 9-13 yrs. of age: 1.8 mcg
  • Adult males: 2.4 mcg
  • Adult females (not pregnant or lactating): 2.4 mcg
  • Pregnant females: 2.6 mcg
  • Lactating females: 2.8 mcg

Diabetics, Take Heed

People suffering from chronic illness may opt to take much higher doses.

People who benefit from larger doses of vitamin B12 include:

  • Elderly individuals
  • People with pernicious anemia
  • People taking proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux or stomach ulcers
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease
  • Diabetics taking metformin

Diabetics need even more B12

According to a recent 7-year survey, type 2 diabetics taking metformin may require higher doses of vitamin B12 than originally believed in order to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency, as the current RDA (2.5 mcg) is not sufficient.

  • Of the survey participants who took metformin for type 2 diabetes, 5.8% had vitamin B12 deficiency- low B12 levels in the blood.
  • Only 2.4% of diabetics not taking metformin had low levels of vitamin B12.
  • About 3.3% of test subjects who did not have diabetes showed signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • For diabetics, taking oral vitamin B12 supplements did not affect their B12 levels, nor did it affect the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • When intestinal disorders interfere with B12 absorption, the only other method for supplementing vitamin B12 is directly through the bloodstream.

Type 2 Diabetes Often Undetected- Do You Have These Symptoms?


Do you have vitamin B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed through blood testing.  However, many of the signs of B12 deficiency may be masked by other prevailing ailments, so it’s important to know the symptoms.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Mental confusion, “brain fog”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Painful numbness in hand and feet, “tingling” sensations
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Clumsiness, stumbling
  • Sore tongue
  • Altered taste perception
  • Eye twitches

Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could result in severe nerve damage, early-onset dementia, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and death.

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency:

Painful Tingling in Hands and Feet- What’s Up with That?

Diabetics, Put On Your Walking Shoes


Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12

Association of Biochemical B12 Deficiency With Metformin Therapy and Vitamin B12 Supplements: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2006- PubMed, NCBI

Image credits, from top:

Jon McGovern, Wikipedia, lgringospain, Pink Sherbet Photography

New Study: Diabetes Drug Metformin Causes Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Thursday, May 5th, 2011



Diabetics who take metformin are at high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, according to recent studies on the correlation between metformin and low vitamin B12 levels in patients with diabetes.

vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetics and metformin can cause nerve damage, such as peripheral neuropathy

What is metformin?

insulin levels in type 2 diabetics. Metformin is also commonly known as glucophage, glumetza, and fortamet. Metformin lowers glucose levels in the blood by controlling the liver’s glucose production, sensitizing the liver to insulin and inhibiting carbohydrate absorption.

Metformin lowers vitamin B12 levels, say scientists

Recent studies show that long-term usage of metformin reduces vitamin B12 levels, causing vitamin B12 deficiency.

  • Researchers discovered that 40% of type 2 diabetics who were prescribed metformin had dangerously low levels of vitamin B12 and suffered from B12 deficiency.
  • Of the metformin-using diabetics who had low B12, approximately 77% also suffered peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage which occurs often with type 2 diabetes.
  • Doctors strongly urge any diabetics currently taking metformin to get tested for B12 deficiency, and to supplement vitamin B12 immediately.
  • One of the most dangerous symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency is neurological damage, such as peripheral neuropathy.

Type 2 Diabetes Often Undetected- Do You Have These Symptoms?

What are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is defined as nerve damage in the arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy is one of four forms of diabetic neuropathy, the others being autonomic, proximal, and focal neuropathies. Some symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are:

  • Pain, tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet
  • Loss of sensation is often likened to the wearing of thin gloves or socks
  • Pain associated with peripheral neuropathy is described by patients as a burning sensation in both hands or feet
  • Lowered sensitivity to temperature
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of balance and coordination

Diabetes is the most common cause for peripheral neuropathy, accounting for 30% of all cases; it can also be caused by infections, autoimmune disorder, toxins or traumatic injuries.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 is found in protein-rich food sources such as lean beef, fish, poultry, eggs and cheese. Vitamin B12 is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system, in addition to producing red blood cells and DNA production.

Selectively excluding vitamin B12 from your diet can lead to B12 deficiency. Also, individuals who lack intrinsic factor, such as patients of pernicious anemia, cannot digest vitamin B12 naturally from food sources. People who are advised to supplement with vitamin B12 are vegans, weight loss surgery patients, individuals with gastrointestinal disease and diabetics who take metformin.

The symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency are:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, as caused by nerve damage
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Aggression
  • Altered taste perception
  • Imbalance and decreased coordination
  • Sleep disturbances

Left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could culminate into severe, irreversible nerve damage and, in rare cases, death.

How can diabetics who take metformin avoid vitamin B12 deficiency and peripheral neuropathy?

Only a blood test can determine if somebody has vitamin B12 deficiency. Doctors advise all diabetics who take metformin to get a screening for B12 deficiency, and to follow up with regular blood tests. If diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, physicians may prescribe a course of B12 injections to be inserted in the thick muscular tissue below the buttocks.

Some individuals have difficulty withstanding painful injections on a regular basis; fibromyalgia patients, children with autism, and others are often advised by physicians to take weekly supplementation of vitamin B12.

For more information on vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetes and metformin, please read:

Diabetics, Put On Your Walking Shoes

Diabetics, Take Heed

B12 Deficiency can really Get on your Nerves


Natural News, PCOS Nutrition Center,MedicineNet, Web MD, Mayo Clinic, Neuropathy AssociationNational Diabetes Information Clearinghouse

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