Why do Diabetics get Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Published on: Modified on:



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.

Your turn!

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.

Like this? Read more:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Menopause Symptoms

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms that Mimic Aging


Metformin Official FDA information, side effects and uses

Metformin Linked to B12 Deficiency

Image courtesy of antpkr/freedigitalphotos