Most people are not aware of the importance of vitamin B12 for our health. This vitamin is an essential nutrient which regulates many body functions, and lack of it has been linked to several health problems.
Our body can’t produce vitamin B12 on its own, so we must rely on supplements to get it. Along with other vitamins from the B group, vitamin B12 assists in the conversion of glucose to energy. Vitamin B12 also plays a part in the production of DNA and RNA, and works closely with folate to create red blood cells and S-adenosyl methionine.
Vitamin B12 is important for proper brain function as well – it conducts nerve impulses and produces the myelin sheaths which protect our nerves from damage. Lack of vitamin B12 is not easily detected, but may cause quite a lot of damage in oud body. According to recent studies, vitamin B12 deficiency is definitely caused by metformin, a popular diabetes drug thousands of people take every day.
The link between metformin and lack of vitamin B12
Scientists from the Einstein College of Medicine recently examined the effects of the drug on vitamin B12 in a study which included participants divided into two groups – one was given metformin, while the other got a placebo pill twice a day. The results showed that the groups had significantly different levels of vitamin B12 – the group which took metformin had pretty lower vitamin B12 levels when compared to the placebo group, and the people in it were anemic as well, which is a symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Although the results were pretty clear and available to the public, the American Diabetes Association is staying silent on the matter.
According to statistics, about 40% of the American population is vitamin B12 deficient. Lack of vitamin B12 has been related to neurological problems. The elderly are more prone to this deficiency as they have lower levels of stomach acid, which makes the body unable to absorb the vitamin properly.
The main symptoms of lack of vitamin B12 are anemia, brain fog, fatigue, muscle weakness, gastrointestinal and neuropsychiatric problems as well as memory loss.
Doctors ignore vitamin B12 deficiency
As it is pretty difficult to detect, doctors usually ignore this deficiency. The normal vitamin B12 levels are 200-1100 pg\ml, but most of us have just 250-300 pg\ml, which can be quite dangerous for our health. When the levels of the vitamin fall below 600pg\ml. you may experience the aforementioned symptoms.
Kriss Kresser, a naturopathic doctor, says that the levels of this vitamin in people in Europe and Japan range between 500-550 pg\ml. This causes dementia, memory loss and cognitive decline. Other experts say that vitamin B12 levels below 450 pg\ml are very dangerous and that the problem must be addressed immediately.
Vitamin B12 is important for our digestion, mood, food absorption, iron use, adrenal hormone production and other important functions. It also assists in the production of red blood cells, enables proper circulation, keeps the immune system healthy, assists in the production of cells and supports the female reproductive health.
In addition to this, vitamin B12 plays a big role in our mental and bone health. Studies have shown that vitamin B12 deficiency may cause rapid bone loss and significantly increases the risk of fractures, while also causing a variety of mental problems such as depression.
Dietary sources of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 can be found in animal sources, fish, eggs and chicken meat. In order to prevent cognitive problems, you should make sure that your children receive enough of it.
Factors that affect vitamin B12 absorption
The older we get, the harder it is for the body to absorb the vitamin. Additionally, there are several other factors which influence the absorption of vitamin B12 such as alcohol abuse, pernicious anemia, nitrous oxide poisoning, intestinal dysbiosis and frequent use of metformin.
Vitamin B12 and metformin
A 3-year study by the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that lifestyle changes, not metformin is better for prevention of diabetes. The subjects that participated in the study experienced a 58% reduced risk of diabetes with lifestyle changes, while those who took metformin experienced a significantly lower percentage of risk.
Lifestyle changes can also reverse the damage done by diabetes, which is excellent news for every diabetic patient.