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Vitamin B12 testing in type-2 diabetes

Wednesday November 21st, 2018

Regular checking of the vitamin B12 levels of patients with type 2 diabetes taking metformin can help prevent irreversible nerve damage, a conference will hear today.

The team, led by Dr Kaenat Mulla at Hucknall Road Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK, say that metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, increasing the risk of nerve damage in the periphery - face, limbs, organs.

The team recruited a group of female, metformin-treated, patients with type-2 diabetes. Testing showed that, although 64% of patients had never had their vitamin B12 levels checked, nearly 10% of those who had been tested were deficient. Many of these were not being treated.

The findings are presented today (21 November) at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Glasgow, UK.

Dr Mulla says: "Current British Society of Haematology guidelines recommend that vitamin B12 levels are checked only when there is clinical suspicion of deficiency.

“However, peripheral neuropathy is irreversible and it may be too late once symptoms have developed.

"Our findings indicate that patients with diabetes taking metformin should be checked more frequently and that we need to ensure deficiencies are adequately treated to avoid irreversible nerve damage."

But the team believe that metformin remains the best treatment for type-2 diabetes, so "these findings should not discourage patients from taking it".

Poster ‘Metformin use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency’ presented by Kaenat Mulla at the Society for Endocrinology BES 2018 Conference on 19-21 November 2018, in Glasgow, UK.

Tags: Diabetes | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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