Drug for Diabetes Lowers Vitamin B12 Levels

Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient needed for healthy nerves and red blood cells.  Primarily found in meat and dairy products, vitamin B12 has a number of very specific health benefits:

•    It helps regulate the nervous system – reducing stress, depression and shrinkage of the brain.
•    Vitamin B12 is needed for conversion of carbohydrates into glucose – maintaining energy levels in the body.
•    It helps in the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels, protecting against heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke
•    Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy hair, nails and skin.

Research has indicated that people who take Metformin - a medication for Type 2 diabetes - may be at risk for reduced levels of vitamin B12. It was found that among patients taking Metformin, 40% were either deficient in vitamin B12 or in the low-normal range.  Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include anemia, depression, dementia and tingling or numbness in the fingers or toes, similar to diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Because of possible B12 deficiency, it has been recommended that patients taking Metformin should also take supplementary vitamin B12. However, a new study has shown that formerly recommended supplementary amounts of vitamin B12 for Metformin users still may not be enough.  
With over 48 million people in the United States alone using Metformin, some scientists are now re-examining a few ancient remedies for diabetes.  Take a look at a couple of natural alternatives for lowering blood sugar.

Bilberry
Also known as European blueberry, bilberry is an herb that has been commonly used in treatment of high blood sugar.  Traditionally, this herb was consumed in the form of a tea, but now it is available in an extract – the typical dosage is 80 to 160 mg, three times daily.

Cinnamon
Two forms of cinnamon can be found on the market:  cinnamon from Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon.  While both have blood sugar regulating properties, they differ in the amounts of coumarin they contain.  This is a blood-thinning compound that if taken in high amounts can be harmful to the health.  Since the amount of coumarin in Cassia cinnamon is higher, it should be used in moderation.  Because it is sometimes hard to distinguish what kind you are purchasing, a safe amount of one half teaspoon daily is recommended.

Gymnema
A plant from India, gymnema (or gymnema sylvestre) is a member of the milkweed family.  It has been used in ancient Indian (or Ayurvedic) medicine for thousands of years.  Gymnema contains compounds that may help to raise the amount of insulin in the body and stimulate cell growth in the pancreas, where insulin is made.  Research has shown that supplementation with 400 mg of gymnema per day can reduce blood sugar by helping glucose be reabsorbed into the blood.

These herbal supplements can be found at your local health food store or through natural supplement websites.  Always check with your health care provider before beginning any type of supplementary program.

Sources:
http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20090608/metformin-linked-to-b12-deficiency
http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Dr-Brownstein/diabetes-drug-Metformin-vitamin-B12/2013/02/11/id/489788?s=al&promo_code=12760-1
http://www.naturalnews.com/035642_cinnamon_blood_sugar_regulating.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/027896_diabetes_gymnema.html

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