Metformin is one of the most common drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. The drug lowers insulin resistance and helps lower the amount of glucose made by the liver. New studies in the works predict that metformin might even help slow the aging process.
One problem that metformin can cause, however, is a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Some recent studies have shown that 10 to 30 percent of people on metformin have decreased B12 absorption levels. One study in China published in the 'Archives of Internal Medicine' showed that diabetic patients on metformin were more likely to have a B12 deficiency regardless of weight, age or any other factors. Those on metformin the longest or those taking the highest doses of the drug were shown to have the greatest B12 deficiency risk.
What It Means
Scientists don't know at this point why metformin might decrease B12 absorption, but at this point, the drug is still recommended for treating type 2 diabetes. Taking a multivitamin may be a good measure of prevention. You can also discuss getting B12 shots with your doctor.
Of course, eating a diet rich in sea food, red meat, dairy and fortified soy products will provide most people with all the B12 they need-- so eat healthily!