Learn The Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms: Your Medication Could Be Putting You At Risk!

by Cindy

Vitamin B12 Deficiency And Diabetes

Vitamin B12 is a naturally occurring substance that is found in fish, red meat, liver, chicken and dairy products. It is essential for proper function of many normal body processes in the intestines, bone marrow and nervous system.

Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, should be a part of every diabetics daily diet to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency.

Patients who are elderly, have abnormal digestion or have had gastric surgery are at the highest risk for this complication.  In addition, many diabetic patients are also at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms due to certain medications! 

Metformin and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Metformin is often the first choice for treatment of non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetes.  Metformin is a diabetic medication that lowers glucose levels by improving how the body uses its own sugars.  It does this by limiting the amount of sugar that your body can absorb, decreasing sugar production in the liver and improving the effectiveness of insulin.  Metformin is can be used alone but this medication is often used in combination with other oral diabetes medications and insulin.

Metformin is an important part of diabetes treatment and works very well to improve blood sugar and a1c blood test readings.  It is generally tolerated well by most patients. Unfortunately, this medication has been linked to low vitamim B12 levels in diabetic patients.

Research has shown that Metformin causes a disruption in the normal absorption of vitamin B12 in the intestinal tract.  It is believed that up to 40% of diabetic patients who are taking this medication could be vitamin B12 deficient.  The link between vitamin B12 deficiency and Metformin caused the American Diabetes Association to take notice.  What they were most concerned about was that over 75% of diabetic patients who had vitamin B12 deficiency also had peripheral neuropathy.

Although there is a clear link between Metformin use and vitamin B12 deficiency this medication should not be stopped with consulting your doctor.  In most cases, your doctor will continue this medication because the benefits of using Metformin far outweigh the risks of low B12.  The American Diabetes Association has advised that people taking Metformin have routine screening for vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

If you have diabetes and are concerned about vitamin B12 deficiency it is important that you understand the symptoms of this disorder.  Symptoms of severe vitamin B12 deficiency are extremely rare but include:

  • Anemia
  • Jaundice
  • Abnormal Gait
  • Glossy Tongue

Severe vitamin B12 deficiency is now very rare.  It is more likely for patients with vitamin B12 deficiency to experience more subtle symptoms, such as:

  • Anemia
  • Abnormal Liver Function
  • Peripheral Neuropathy (Nerve problems)
  • Weakness
  • Personality Changes
  • Abnormal Thought Process
  • Poor Memory
  • Bone Loss

If you have vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms it is important to talk with your doctor about testing for this disorder.  Vitamin B12 deficiency is a treatable condition that involves supplementing the diet with B12 injections and oral medications to restore levels to normal.  Once the deficit is corrected, most patients will be able to keep B12 levels in a normal range by taking extra vitamin supplements.

Learn more about Metformin from PubMed Health


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