November 2018 is National Diabetes Month
November is National Diabetes Month and results of a British study suggest that good levels of Vitamin B12 can help to prevent permanent nerve damage called diabetic peripheral neuropathy in type 2 diabetics, especially if they are taking Metformin.
Type 2 Diabetes can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage
One of the dangerous consequences of having type 2 diabetes is that there is a risk to develop permanent irreversible nerve damage (diabetic peripheral neuropathy). This is usually in the legs and limbs, but different forms of neuropathy can cause symptoms in the face and organs like the heart and bladder. Symptoms can be numbness or pain and if not treated can lead to walking problems and a loss of balance and coordination, especially if Vitamin B12 levels are insufficient.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is very common among diabetics and according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about a third to half of all diabetics have peripheral neuropathy.
Metformin Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Metformin is the most commonly prescribed drug for diabetics to control glucose (sugar) levels in the blood, but using Metformin has been linked to a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which in turn, raises the risk for peripheral nerve damage. Previous research has definitely linked Metformin with Vitamin B12 deficiency and one study showed that people who took Metformin for over 4 years had 19% decreased levels of Vitamin B12 and had a 7.2% risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Hucknall Road Medical Center, Nottingham
The study was based on screening carried out by Dr. Kaenet Mulla and other GP doctors at the Hucknall Road Medical Center in Nottingham, UK, on female patients with type 2 diabetes to check if their blood levels of Vitamin B12 were sufficient. Results showed that 64% of the patients had never had their Vitamin B12 levels checked. Also, 9.6% of the patients were found to be deficient for Vitamin B12, but only 6.4% were being treated with supplemental Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is most effectively absorbed when it is given under the tongue in a tiny pill that dissolves very quickly.
Dr. Mulla believes that diabetics taking metformin should be checked more often to make sure they have not become deficient in Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 Cobalamin
Vitamin B12 Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that is part of the B-complex vitamins. Unlike other B-complex vitamins that are readily found in both the plant and animal worlds, Vitamin B12 is only found in animal derived foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. However, sometimes it is added to plant derived foods like nutritional yeast. Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are one of the best food sources for B-complex vitamins, but they are lacking Vitamin B12, so some food companies ad it to their products. Other B-complex vitamins are found liberally in the plant world in grains, legumes, Brewer’s or nutritional yeast, as well as in animal products. For this reason vegans are also at risk for being deficient in Vitamin B12, as there is no plant way to get it so vegans may have to supplement with Vitamin B12.
Some people eat enough foods that contain Vitamin B12, but still have a problem with absorption if they do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomachs, which is necessary for proper absorption and so they test deficient and need to take supplementation.
Vitamin B12 is Necessary for the Following Functions in the Body:
- The formation of red blood cells in bone marrow. People who are deficient can develop pernicious and megaloblastic anemia.
- Normal functioning of the nervous system
- DNA synthesis
- Metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids
- Mental Health
- Low Vitamin B12 has been associated with cognitive decline according to some research.
Other Drugs than can Lead to Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Proton Pump Inhibitors
- H2 Receptor Antagonists
Short or Long-term Rehab and Skilled Nursing Care
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Since Vitamin B12 is so important for all people, although especially for diabetics, it is important to do the simple blood test to make sure you have sufficient amounts. If you are found deficient you will need to supplement Vitamin B12.