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  Thursday, January 29, 2015  Home > Body-Mind-Spirit > Health & Wellness > Diabetes > Diabetic's Beware!
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Diabetic's Beware!

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Dr. Nelson Mañé

Metformin is a medication commonly prescribed for type two diabetics. Metformin is also sold as Glucophage, Fortamet, and Glumetza. A recent study in the scientific research journal of the Brazilian medical association found a high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in Metformin treated diabetic patients.

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that is naturally present in foods such as fish, shellfish, poultry, milk, eggs and meat.   Vitamin B12 is necessary proper function of your nervous system, the manufacture of red blood cells as well as to make DNA.  Vitamin B12 is also associated with regulating Homocysteine levels which is associated with heart disease.

Symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • diabetes_1confusion 
  • forgetfulness
  • feeling tired and weak
  • tingling in the hands and feet 
  • constipation
  • trouble with balance and walking
  • mood changes including depression
  • weight loss.
Physical signs you may notice include:
  • soreness of the tongue
  • bleeding gums
  • frequent bruising
  • paleness of the skin.

Vitamin B12 levels are typically evaluated by serum or plasma analysis. This type of testing can be performed at any of your standard laboratories such as Quest Diagnostics and as such are readily available to patients in the United States .

Ten to thirty percent of those over 50 years of age suffer from a condition called atrophic gastritis.  In atrophic gastritis, there are reduced levels of hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach.  The consequence of this low hydrochloric acid production is diminished absorption of vitamin B12. Thus, if you are elderly and a diabetic taking metformin, the chances of your having a vitamin B12 deficiency increase.

Vegetarians, who by definition do not eat animal proteins, and are the most prevalent source of vitamin B12, and those with digestive disorders such as crohn's disease, also need to beware of possible B12 deficiency. Once again, this is especially true if coupled with being a diabetic was taking metformin.

If you're a diabetic and taking Metformin and feel that several of the signs and symptoms listed above pertain to you, contact your physician for a vitamin B12 analysis. Many physicians are not aware of the nutritional consequences of the medication they prescribe and therefore a visit to a functional medicine practitioner may be in order.

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