When sugar levels go awry – meds are often prescribed. The anti-diabetic drug which is widely prescribed, is metformin.
Metformin works it’s magic, by decreasing glucose production – the overall result, it helps keep sugar levels in check. Protecting the diabetic from the dire consequences of elevated sugar levels.
Unfortunately, it also does a few things that are not quite as helpful.
This is the problem with drugs – there are always risks along with the benefits.
Meftormin chews up vitamin B12
Numerous studies have demonstrated, that diabetic patients taking metformin on a regular basis, end up with lower vitamin B12 levels.
Low, not necessarily NONE.
But, low enough to be “worrisome”.
You see, Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin is an important cofactor i.e. an enzyme helper. It helps out the enzymes which are involved in methylation pathways. And when it is missing in action, a whole range of problems can arise. Among them permanent nerve damage, megaloblastic anaemia and vascular complications.
Nerve damage and vascular complications.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…… these are two big problems facing someone with diabetes. They have fancy names, neuropathy, retinopathy, macroangiopathy – but when all is said and done, the complications of diabetes, revolve around nerve damage and blood vessel damage.
This is why priority number one in diabetes, is to keep those sugar levels within a normal range.
Something metformin is good at doing.
At a price ?
Diabetes is not something you’re CURED OF. It is more about management. Sadly, even when sugar levels are managed well…………….complications can arise.
Specifically nerve damage and vascular complications.
Could metformin, our hero, be part of the problem ?
An unrecognized vitamin B12 deficiency, is going to impact.
But, it doesn’t have to be……
Make a plan
As long as you know, metformin chews vitamin B12 – you can make a plan, TO GET A LITTLE EXTRA vitamin B12.
Your body cannot make it. Plants can’t either.
To get enough you need to consume animal products. 100 g of liver will contain 26-58 ug of the stuff. A 100 g steak or a pork chop, gives you 1-3 ug and an egg yolk , will give you 1-2.5 ug.
If you’re a strict vegetarian, you’re GOING TO BE short changed.
Unfortunately, even if you’re eating enough, it does not always mean, you’re getting enough….
Getting it in, is a process
The body uses a rather sophisticated process, to get vitamin B12 from the gut, and into the cells that need it.
15 different proteins are involved.
That means, there are 15 different points, were things can GO WRONG. And they often do. Vitamin B12 is often a nutrient in short supply.
How much vitamin B12 you’re getting, depends on how well this pathway is working, the efficiency of this pathway depends on your genetics, as well as your body chemistry…….
If you’re taking metformin – the pathway is compromised.
The reason, metformin stops intrinsic factor, the special vitamin B12 transporter, from attaching to the ileal membrane. If intrinsic factor can’t attach to the gut membrane – the vitamin B12 is not absorbed.
So eating more, might not always help……
Supply is depleted to over time
Our bodies store vitamin B12 – on paper, you should have more than enough to meet your needs.
But years of metformin use………….could leave you with low levels, even if you’re eating “enough”.
This means, swallowing a vitamin pill full of vitamin B12, won’t fix the problem. You need to bypass the sophisticated absorption system, which is being “sabotaged” by metformin.
There are two ways to do this
- You can use a sublingual formulation, this is a formulation you put under your tongue
- You can be brave and get a shot.
Mitigate the risk
If you’re managing your diabetes with metformin, make sure you’re keeping your vitamin B12 levels topped up.
The key to better body chemistry for the diabetic, is to blunt the rise in sugar. A whey cocktail prior to a meal is an easy way to reduce sugar spikes…
Traditionally the pancreas is blamed for the malfunction, but is it really too blame ? Maybe the trouble starts because the gut cells can’t taste sugar
When an iron pump in the pancreas runs full steam for too long, beta cells die and diabetes begins. Turning the pump down, is enough to stop diabetes.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind metabolic syndrome ?
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