Why is vitamin B12 important and especially for diabetes?
What is vitamin B12 and what does it do?
Vitamin B12 or Methylcobalamin is a nutrient that the human body needs to make red blood cells, nerves, DNA, and carry out other functions. Methylcobalamin is sometimes used in people with pernicious anemia, diabetes, and other conditions. The average adult needs 2.4 micrograms a day. Like most vitamins, B12 can’t be made by the body and we must get it from food or supplements.
Who is at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Insufficient Vitamin B12 leads to a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Plants don’t make vitamin B12 and the only foods that deliver it are meat, eggs, poultry, dairy products, and other foods from animals. Strict vegetarians and vegans are at high risk for developing a B12 deficiency if they don’t eat grains that have been fortified with the vitamin or take a vitamin supplement.
Those who have had weight-loss surgery are also likely to have low vitamin B12. This is because the surgery interferes with the body’s ability to extract vitamin B12 from food.
Conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption, such celiac or Crohn’s disease, can also cause B12 trouble. In older people, the use of commonly prescribed heartburn drugs, which reduce acid production in the stomach (acid is needed to absorb vitamin B12) can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency.
What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur.
Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, soreness/swelling of the mouth or tongue, and losing the sense of taste and smell. More serious symptoms include rapid or irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath.
Even in people who don’t have anemia, a vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system, so it is important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.
In infants, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency can be in the form of failure to thrive, problems with movement, delays in reaching developmental milestones, and megaloblastic anemia.
When folic acid is given to treat megaloblasic anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, it can appear to resolve the deficiency but it cannot treat the progressive damage caused to the nervous system by the vitamin B12 deficiency. Thus, healthy adults must not take more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid per day.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often slow to develop and symptoms intensify over time or manifest quickly.
Considering the various symptoms caused by a vitamin B12, the condition can be confused with something else. Even if the doctor detects the vitamin B12 deficiency with a clinical examination, a blood test is still needed to confirm the condition.
If you are strictly vegetarian or have had weight-loss surgery that interferes with the absorption of food, get your vitamin B12 levels checked.
Early detection and treatment is important. If left untreated, the deficiency can cause severe neurologic problems and blood diseases.
Vitamin B12 and Diabetes: What You Need to Know
Diabetes mellitus can increase your risk of having a B-12 deficiency. Metformin treatment, both duration and dose, is associated with increased risk of vitamin B12 (B12) deficiency in people with diabetes. B12 deficiency causes Hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), which is associated with an increased risk of a variety of diabetic complications.
Additionally, a 2009 study found that 22 percent of people with type 2 diabetes were low in B12, suggesting that metformin contributed to the deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also linked to heart condition in people with type 2 diabetes. Low B12 tends to be associated with high levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
A severe, long-term B12 deficiency can cause loss of mobility and seizures.
Biochemical and clinical vitamin B12 deficiency is common among patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus causing impaired memory, dementia, delirium, peripheral neuropathy, sub-acute combined degeneration of the spinal cord, megaloblastic anemia and pancytopenia. (Source)
One of the potential complications of diabetes mellitus is neuropathy, also called nerve damage. It’s caused by the adverse effects of high blood glucose over a long period. Diabetic neuropathy can also affect other body parts, including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
B12 deficiency is known to lead to peripheral neuropathy with symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, pain, and paresthesia (a burning or itchy sensation of the skin). It’s usually felt on the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
You don’t have to have diabetes to develop neuropathy. Prolonged B12 deficiency can also damage your nerves. Whether you have diabetes or not, symptoms of neuropathy should not be ignored.
How B12 deficiency is diagnosed
A simple blood test can determine if the problem is low B12. If you have diabetes and/or B12 deficiency, your doctor will do a complete evaluation, taking your blood glucose levels into consideration.
What to do if you have symptoms of B-12 deficiency
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels may help you control B12 absorption. In addition to diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep can often help. Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan tailored to your needs. You may be advised to increase B12 in your diet.
What foods provide vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. Good sources of vitamin B-12 include: red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, clams and beef liver.
Foods that may be fortified with B-12 include nutritional yeast, which are cheesy-tasting vegetarian flakes, cereal, bread, and tofu. As always, it is important to read the nutritional labels carefully.
Your doctor may also advise you to take oral vitamin B-12 supplements, especially if you have a vegetarian or vegan diet. If you’re severely deficient, they can give you B-12 injections.
Follow your doctor’s advice to avoid serious complications of B-12 deficiency. Also arrange for follow-up testing to make sure you’re on the right track.
Vitamin B12 for diabetes
As a type 2 diabetic, I am aware of the risks of vitamin B12 deficiency. I am regularly taking Warjoja capsules, a nutritious methylcobalamin dietary supplement that works as a diabetic retinopathy supplement and diabetic neuropathy supplement too.
Warjoja capsule is composed of:
- Methylcobalamin – 1500 mcg
- Alphalipoic Acid – 200 mg
- Inositol – 100 mg
- Folic Acid – 1.5 mg
- Chromium Polynicotinate – 200 mcg
- Selenium Dioxide – 55 mcg
- Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate – 25 mg
How does Warjoja specifically help people with diabetes?
Warjoja helps diabetics in treating body disorders arising out of diabetes by fulfilling their needs.
- Burning sensation
- Drug resistance
- Pricking sensation
- Mood swings
- Mild depression
- Vitamin b12 deficiency
- Vitamin d3 deficiency
- Hair fall
- Sciatica pain
- Immune failures
I have been taking Warjoja capsules twice a day as recommended for two weeks, followed by one per day subsequently. I have felt more energetic and healthier. My fasting sugar levels have come down significantly.
And of course, it goes without saying that one needs to follow a healthy lifestyle and diet and exercise to experience the full benefits.