Antacid drugs linked to vitamin B12 deficiency
If you are one of the millions of adults who are taking a long-term antacid medication such as Prevacid, Prilosec or Nexium, you may be at greater risk for vitamin B12 deficiency according to a new study.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, states that two types of acid-inhibiting medications that suppress the production of gastric acid may lead to malabsorption of vitamin B12. This puts users at risk for potentially serious medical complications associated with B12 deficiency, especially if left untreated.
“Vitamin B12 deficiency can be dangerous,” says Dr. Allison Benthal, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Libertyville, Ill. “The deficiency can lead to dementia, anemia and neuropathy, such as tingling, numbness and balance issues.”
If left untreated many of these issues may be irreversible. The study also found that the association between the long-term digestive medication and vitamin deficiency was stronger among women and younger age groups, and that discontinuing the medication did help decrease the association.
Acid inhibitors are among the most commonly used pharmaceuticals in the United States, according to the study. In 2012, 14.9 million patients received 157 million prescriptions for gastric acid-inhibiting medications. Therefore, use of these medications could increase the population’s risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
“Often, this deficiency is discovered during routine blood tests, but if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact your physician,” Dr. Benthal says. “You can make sure you’re getting enough B12 by eating foods such as red meat, fish and shellfish, dairy products and even cereals that are fortified with the vitamin.”
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