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Diabetics, Take Heed

A new study released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) warns diabetics who take metformin to get their blood checked regularly for vitamin deficiencies, particularly B12.

Sold under the brand name of Glucophage, metformin is often prescribed to patients who suffer from type 2 diabetes.  Metformin increases the body’s receptiveness to insulin while, at the same time, significantly decreasing the amount of glucose secreted by the liver; additionally, it also aids in lowering bad cholesterol.   Scientists, however, have reason to believe that metformin may prevent the body from efficiently absorbing B12, a vitamin which is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system and red blood cell production.  According to recent research, patients who take metformin are 10% – 30% more likely to have difficulty utilizing B12.  Health experts urge anybody taking the medication over a long period of time to have their B12 levels tested routinely.

B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed, as its symptoms are similar to those of many other illnesses.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression
  • Loss of memory
  • Tingling and numbness in the extremities
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Slow blood clotting
  • Dandruff
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Red or sore tongue
  • Menstrual complications

Treatment for B12 deficiency may include a series of B12 vitamin supplements taken in the form of intramuscular injections.

References:

Bloomberg Businessweek

Web MD

Diabetes Self-Management

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