Association of Biochemical B12 Deficiency With Metformin Therapy and Vitamin B12 Supplements

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2006

  1. Godfrey P. Oakley Jr., MD, MSPM
  1. Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
  1. Corresponding author: Godfrey P. Oakley Jr., gpoakley{at}mindspring.com.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe the prevalence of biochemical B12 deficiency in adults with type 2 diabetes taking metformin compared with those not taking metformin and those without diabetes, and explore whether this relationship is modified by vitamin B12 supplements.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Analysis of data on U.S. adults ≥50 years of age with (n = 1,621) or without type 2 diabetes (n = 6,867) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999–2006. Type 2 diabetes was defined as clinical diagnosis after age 30 without initiation of insulin therapy within 1 year. Those with diabetes were classified according to their current metformin use. Biochemical B12 deficiency was defined as serum B12 concentrations ≤148 pmol/L and borderline deficiency was defined as >148 to ≤221 pmol/L.

RESULTS Biochemical B12 deficiency was present in 5.8% of those with diabetes using metformin compared with 2.4% of those not using metformin (P = 0.0026) and 3.3% of those without diabetes (P = 0.0002). Among those with diabetes, metformin use was associated with biochemical B12 deficiency (adjusted odds ratio 2.92; 95% CI 1.26–6.78). Consumption of any supplement containing B12 was not associated with a reduction in the prevalence of biochemical B12 deficiency among those with diabetes, whereas consumption of any supplement containing B12 was associated with a two-thirds reduction among those without diabetes.

CONCLUSIONS Metformin therapy is associated with a higher prevalence of biochemical B12 deficiency. The amount of B12 recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2.4 μg/day) and the amount available in general multivitamins (6 μg) may not be enough to correct this deficiency among those with diabetes.

  • Received August 17, 2011.
  • Accepted October 30, 2011.

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This Article

  1. Diabetes Care
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