Vitamin B12 Deficiency Linked to an Overuse of Anti-Acid Medication

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Vitamin Planet ( retailers cautions regular users of P.P.I.’s to keep a check on their vitamin B12 levels to avoid unwanted complications due to deficiency.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to health issues such as anaemia, depression, dementia, and neurological problems.

Vitamin B12, like most of the other vitamins, is water-soluble, but unlike other vitamins, B12 can be stored in the body tissues, particularly the liver and kidneys. When food such as meat, liver or kidneys of animals is included in the diet the body can absorb the B12 from these animal tissues and store it for later use. There are a few plants, such as spirulina, tempeh, and most sea vegetables that also possess quantities of B12, but this form can block B12 in body tissue and cause a greater deficiency over time, since the body cannot store it.

As the food is digested in the stomach, the hydrochloric acid breaks down the food to release the vitamin B12. As the body ages the stomach produces lower amounts of this acid, inhibiting the ability to absorb vitamin B12, causing a deficiency, and leading to health issues such as anaemia, depression, dementia, and neurological problems. This is well documented in elderly patients, leading medical researchers to explore the factors that contributed to younger patients showing similar symptoms of deficiency, starting with the ability to absorb B12 in the stomach.

It was found that patients who suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and ulcers in the stomach or duodenum, and were prescribed acid-suppressing drugs called proton-pump inhibitors, or P.P.I.’s, and histamine 2 receptor antagonists, for more than two years were 65 percent more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency. This study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and is the largest study to date to demonstrate a link between taking acid suppressants and developing a vitamin B12 deficiency across age groups said Dr. Douglas A. Corley, senior author of the new research.

This study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, who examined the medical records of 25,956 adults who received vitamin B12 deficiency diagnoses between 1997 and 2011, comparing them with 184,199 patients without B12 deficiency during that period. The experts noted that the benefits of P.P.I.’s must be weighed against their risks, including increasing the likelihood of bone fractures, pneumonia, C. difficile infection, and now, vitamin B12 deficiency before prescribing acid suppressants to those suffering from GERD or related stomach problems.

Rachel Moore of Vitamin Planet commented:

Anyone with a B12 range lower than 600 pg/ml can be deficient and at risk for the symptoms related to B12 deficiency. Taking an oral vitamin B12 supplement can help reduce this problem and is especially helpful to those above the age of 65. B12 supplements such as B-MAX Methylcobalamin B12 are exceptionally safe, with virtually no known side effects, but as the B12 molecule is larger than other B vitamins, it can be difficult to absorb on its own. A combination of a healthy diet and supplementation is the most effective way to maintaining a healthy level of B12.

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