Vitamin B12 deficiency may be linked to stomach antacids. A current study on vitamin B12 absorption found that when patients ingest stomach antacids it may cause problems with obtaining the right B12 dosage the human body needs to stay healthy. It seems that this study found a strong link to malabsorption when people are taking antacid medications long-term. Patients seem to have a 65 percent higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiencies if they were taking a proton pump inhibitor antacid drug for over two years.
Two groups of antacid drugs were found to cause problems with B12 absorption. The proton pump inhibitors, and the histamine 2 receptor antagonists. The later drug seems to give patients a risk of 25 percent in being B12 deficient if taken for 2 or more years.
The study’s findings remained stable, even when other factors that can cause vitamin B12 deficiency are present. Such disorders that may affect vitamin B12 are diabetes, alcohol abuse and thyroid disease. Although, the new research is only based off of an association of vitamin B12 deficiency and antacid drugs. Scientists have yet to prove a cause and effect reaction that B12 has a positive relationship when taking these drugs. Researchers do mention it is possible biologically to show that the two have a positive co-relation to each other, due to the fact that the acid in the stomach helps to cut the B12 vitamin from the base protein in order to be synthesized within the human body. So researchers should be able to eventually find a way to prove a cause and effect reaction of vitamin B12 deficiency that may be linked to certain stomach antacids.
As a high-end essential nutrient that the human body needs in order to make DNA and to maintain a healthy nervous system, people who develop a vitamin B12 deficiency can have major health problems. These health issues can damage nerves, and cause anemia. NIH said that about 1.5 to 15 percent of people may have very low levels of vitamin B12. Past studies only include small samples of patients studied, making the data inconsistent.
The new research study used 25,956 participants from North Carolina with low levels of vitamin B12, and 184,199 participants did not have the deficiency. Scientists have estimated that out of every 67 patients that are taking a form of stomach antacid, about one person will develop a vitamin B12 deficiency. The study also showed that the link seemed to grow weaker when patients stopped taking the antacid medications.
For most of the medications used for antacid problems, heart burn and ulcers, they are generally meant to be used on a short-term basis and no longer than a couple of months. These prescribed stomach acid drugs are made to go after the cause of the acid problems, unlike the Tums and other chalky chewables that people gobble up in order to neutralize the acid in the stomach after it causes an upset.
What is interesting is that the proton pump inhibitors actually account for around 14 billion dollars in sales, and prescriptions yearly are dispensed at about 100 million. Most are sold as prescriptions, but others are sold at lower concentrations over the counter. So in reality, scientists will continue to study the vitamin B12 deficiency that may be linked to these stomach antacids in order to find that positive data relationship they are striving for.
By Tina Elliott