open access

Vol 5, No 6 (2016)
Review articles (submitted)
Published online: 2017-03-31
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Is it necessary to be afraid of vitamin B12 deficiency during metformin treatment?

Jakub Gumprecht, Michał Długaszek, Agnieszka Niemczyk, Magdalena Pyryt, Ewa Olszańska, Monika Gubała, Kinga Tyrała, Hanna Kwiendacz, Katarzyna Nabrdalik
DOI: 10.5603/DK.2016.0033
·
Clinical Diabetology 2016;5(6):195-198.

open access

Vol 5, No 6 (2016)
Review articles (submitted)
Published online: 2017-03-31

Abstract

Metformin, a biguanide derivative, is the most frequently used antihyperglycaemic agent in the world. Various adverse effects can occur during the drug therapy. One of them is vitamin B12 deficiency, which may be either asymptomatic (biochemical) or may lead to neurological and/or haematological disorders. Causal diagnosis of these disorders is hampered due to the fact that nervous system symptoms are similar to neurological complications developing over the course of diabetes mellitus. It is estimated that 5.8 to 33% of metformin treated patients have a low (below the reference level) serum vitamin B12 concentration. The interrelation between vitamin B12 deficiency and metformin usage has been known for decades and over that time many studies have been carried out to assess the issue. Unfortunately, these studies were mainly observational, retrospective and performed on nonhomogeneous groups of patients. Recently a meta-analysis of studies concerning only diabetic patients was performed and it demonstrated the existence of a relationship between metformin treatment and vitamin B12 deficiency. Nevertheless, further well-designed, large-scale, randomized studies performed on a homogenous group of patients and employing homogenous criteria for diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency are necessary in order to decide whether serum vitamin B12 concentration should be routinely checked among metformin treated patients.

Abstract

Metformin, a biguanide derivative, is the most frequently used antihyperglycaemic agent in the world. Various adverse effects can occur during the drug therapy. One of them is vitamin B12 deficiency, which may be either asymptomatic (biochemical) or may lead to neurological and/or haematological disorders. Causal diagnosis of these disorders is hampered due to the fact that nervous system symptoms are similar to neurological complications developing over the course of diabetes mellitus. It is estimated that 5.8 to 33% of metformin treated patients have a low (below the reference level) serum vitamin B12 concentration. The interrelation between vitamin B12 deficiency and metformin usage has been known for decades and over that time many studies have been carried out to assess the issue. Unfortunately, these studies were mainly observational, retrospective and performed on nonhomogeneous groups of patients. Recently a meta-analysis of studies concerning only diabetic patients was performed and it demonstrated the existence of a relationship between metformin treatment and vitamin B12 deficiency. Nevertheless, further well-designed, large-scale, randomized studies performed on a homogenous group of patients and employing homogenous criteria for diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency are necessary in order to decide whether serum vitamin B12 concentration should be routinely checked among metformin treated patients.

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Keywords

metformin, vitamin B12, type 2 diabetes mellitus

About this article
Title

Is it necessary to be afraid of vitamin B12 deficiency during metformin treatment?

Journal

Clinical Diabetology

Issue

Vol 5, No 6 (2016)

Pages

195-198

Published online

2017-03-31

DOI

10.5603/DK.2016.0033

Bibliographic record

Clinical Diabetology 2016;5(6):195-198.

Keywords

metformin
vitamin B12
type 2 diabetes mellitus

Authors

Jakub Gumprecht
Michał Długaszek
Agnieszka Niemczyk
Magdalena Pyryt
Ewa Olszańska
Monika Gubała
Kinga Tyrała
Hanna Kwiendacz
Katarzyna Nabrdalik

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