Diabetes patients treated with metformin over a long period of time often do not have their vitamin B12 levels monitored, even though they are more likely to develop B12 deficiency, according to a study published Feb. 9 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Metformin is one of the most common treatments for people with type 2 diabetes. However, long-term exposure to metformin may lead to low levels of B12, a vitamin that is important for red blood cell formation and brain function.
This study was conducted by evaluating veterans over 50 years old at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center for ten years. Around 3,000 veterans evaluated had type 2 diabetes treated with metformin and around 13,000 veterans were without type 2 diabetes and were not treated with metformin.
Only 37% of the veterans treated with metformin were tested for vitamin B12 deficiency. About 7% of the metformin patients were considered B12 deficient and experienced much lower levels of B12 than those not treated with metformin.
Based on these findings, study author Vijaya Kancheria said that diabetes patients treated with metformin should have their B12 levels monitored more often.