Vitamin B12 might be good for diabetics for several reasons. Recent research has shown that vitamin B12 might help mitigate some of the most common complications associated with long-term diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy. Some diabetic medications, including metformin, might also cause vitamin B12 deficiency, so supplementation might benefit diabetics. Speak to your doctor or health care practitioner about vitamin B12 if you are diabetic or at risk of becoming diabetic.
Vitamin B12 is an integral component of homocysteine metabolism. Homocysteine is an amino acid, and without enough vitamin B12, blood levels of homocysteine rise. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to diabetic retinopathy, a complication that causes damage to the blood vessels in the eye. A 2008 study conducted by Australian researchers and published in the journal "Diabetes Care" examined 168 type 2 diabetics of both genders and found higher levels of homocysteine in those with retinopathy.
Vitamin B12 might also be good for diabetics with neuropathy -- painful nerve damage that often afflicts diabetics in their legs and feet. According to researcher Y. Henry Sun of the Institute of Molecular Biology at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, vitamin B12 has shown some effectiveness in minimizing several symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy, including pain, numbness, prickling and tingling.
Vitamin B12 might also be good for diabetics to supplement because the diabetes drug metformin has been shown to cause vitamin B12 deficiency in some patients. According to nutritionist Amy Campbell of the Joslin Diabetes Center, 10 to 30 percent of diabetics who take metformin demonstrate lower levels of vitamin B12. Speak to your doctor or health care practitioner about vitamin B12 supplementation if you are taking metformin for your diabetes.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Diabetics can get vitamin B12 from their diet. Some of the more abundant sources include beef liver, clams, trout, salmon, sirloin steak, haddock, tuna, cheese and chicken. Vitamin B12 generally does not exist in plant sources, so vegetarian diabetics are best served by eating fortified cereals or nutritional yeast.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Vitamin B12"; May 2010
- American Diabetes Association; "Diabetes Care -- Homocysteine and Diabetic Retinopathy"; Laima Brazionis et al; January 2008
- Acta Neurolgica Taiwanica; "Effectiveness of Vitamin B12 on Diabetic Neuropathy -- Systematic Review of Clinical Controlled Trials"; Y. Sun et al; June 2005
- Diabetes Self-Management; "Metformin and Risk For Vitamin B12 Deficiency"; Amy Campbell; December 2006