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Posts Tagged ‘metformin side effects’

Why do Diabetics get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013



If you’re an adult diabetic, then you’re in a higher risk category for vitamin B12 deficiency than people who don’t struggle with diabetes. Health experts agree that diabetics using a certain medication for type-2 diabetes must check their vitamin B12 levels regularly, in order to prevent debilitating symptoms of pernicious anemia that often mimic those already experienced by diabetics.

Why do Diabetics get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

It’s been published in countless medical journals, but many people who have diabetes are still unaware that they can potentially become severely anemic, and not because of their health condition…but because of medications they are taking to improve their health.

Pernicious anemia

Pernicious anemia, which results from long-time vitamin B12 deficiency, can cripple the nervous system and cause a breakdown in cognitive functioning. Fewer red blood cells results in less oxygen in the brain and other parts of your body. Over time, it can also increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, through increasing homocysteine levels.

Most people are able to avoid it just by eating foods that are rich in vitamin B12, such as beef, seafood, chicken, and dairy products. But for many people- about 30% of all US citizens- vitamin B12 levels continue to deplete, despite diet.

That’s because there are several factors outside diet that raise your risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency.

I Eat Healthy…So How did I Get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

For diabetics, the cause of pernicious anemia is metformin, an oral anti-hyperglycemic drug that is used to control type-2 diabetes.

FDA warnings

“In controlled clinical trials of Metformin of 29 weeks duration, a decrease to subnormal levels of previously normal serum Vitamin B12 levels, without clinical manifestations, was observed in approximately 7% of patients.”

In many studies focusing on metformin usage and vitamin B12 levels, scientists found that metformin hydrochloride tablets interfere with “B12 absorption from the B12-intrinsic factor complex,” but that symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency were “rapidly reversible with discontinuation of Metformin hydrochloride tablets or Vitamin B12 supplementation.”


Regardless of how well you manage your diet, you may still become deficient in crucial vitamin B12 nutrients, because you aren’t able to break down vitamin B12 from food and absorb it into your system.

That means that even tablets containing vitamin B12 will be of little use, as they must be absorbed through a digestive system that is unable to use B12 efficiently.

To prevent vitamin B12 deficiency anemia with diabetes, it is essential to use non-dietary forms of vitamin B12 that bypass the need for gastrointestinal digestion.

These include vitamin B12 injections, which require prescription, and non-prescription vitamin B12 supplements that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream without requiring injection.

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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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