The United Kingdom’s health agency has said in an advisory that patients taking the popular anti-diabetic pill metformin should have their vitamin B12 levels checked at regular intervals.
The warning is also relevant in the Indian context as the country is known as the diabetes capital of the world and accounts for 17% of the total number of diabetics globally.
According to the estimates released in 2021, there are around 80 million people with diabetes in India and this number is expected to increase to 135 million by 2045.
Metformin is one of the most commonly used antidiabetic drugs worldwide, including in India, as it helps control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
According to the UK advisory “Metformin and Reduced Vitamin B12 Levels: New Advisory for Monitoring Patients at Risk”, decreased levels of vitamin B12, or vitamin B12 deficiency, is now considered a common side effect in patients on metformin treatment.
This deficiency is most common in patients receiving high doses or long-term treatment or those with existing risk factors.
Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to anemia because this micronutrient is needed to make red blood cells.
“We are therefore recommending testing vitamin B12 serum levels in patients being treated with metformin who have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency,” the June 20 advisory said. be considered.”
Metformin is an anti-diabetic drug that works by decreasing glucose production in the liver, delaying the absorption of sugar (glucose) from the intestines, and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
According to Dr Anoop Mishra, Executive Chairman, Fortis C DOC, a chain that manages diabetes and other endocrine diseases, “Metformin is an important drug and is prescribed to almost 80 per cent of diabetics.”
He said that while it is known that metformin lowers B12 levels, it holds more relevance in the Indian context, especially because “Indian vegetarians are more likely to be B12 deficient”.
“We complement it for almost all patients,” he said, advising that all doctors should conduct B12 testing among patients using metformin.
Read all the latest news, breaking news, watch top videos and watch Live TV right here.