Vitamin B12 and Diabetes

vitamin B12 bottle on the Diabetes Diet
Vitamin B12 Gummies by icethim on flickr. Reproduced thanks to Creative Commons 2.0

In the news this week was an article about Vitamin B12 and its deficiency in those with type 2 diabetes*.

A new study by Nottingham researchers has shown that most people (64 percent of those assessed) people taking metformin (for type 2) were not being routinely tested for levels of vitamin B12 in their bodies. The assessment is needed to check for signs of nerve damage, a painful side effect of diabetes. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin the body requires to work properly.

The study’s author, Dr Kaenat Mulla from Hucknall Road Medical Centre said: “Current British Society of Haematology guidelines recommend that vitamin B12 levels are checked only when there is clinical suspicion of deficiency. However, peripheral neuropathy is irreversible and it may be too late once symptoms have developed.”

In an article on diabetes.co.uk, she stressed her warning wasn’t intended to discourage people from taking metformin, but she wanted to encourage doctors to monitor vitamin B12 routinely so deficiencies are picked up quickly and can be treated.

Before you all rush to Holland & Barrett to stock up, there are plenty of food sources that are rich in Vitamin B12. And funnily enough, we have a few recipes that feature them… Here’s what you might want to consider.

Liver and kidneys

Animal organ meats are a good source of the vitamin. A lot of people find the taste too strong—and I for one am never going to eat kidneys as their function puts me off—but chicken liver is more delicate than lamb’s for example, and might be more palatable.

Sardines

Sardines are another source and they are one of the few fish where Omega 3 levels survive the canning process. They are also cheap as chips and packed full of calcium as again the canning process softens the bones enough for you to eat them (and not notice you’re doing so).

Tuna, trout and salmon

More fish products that are super high in vitamin B12. You can find recipes on our site for salmon here and here, and trout here. I prefer trout to salmon as I find the flavour more delicate and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper too.

Dairy products

Milk, plain yoghurt and cheese have decent levels of the vitamin. Make a delicious sweet treat using Greek yoghurt, two teaspoons of good cocoa powder and a tablespoon of granulated sweetener and you’ve got a calcium, protein and magnesium packed pudding. And as for cheese, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love, adore like it? Hard, soft, strong, mild blue or from the cow, goat or sheep, there’s one that suits all. Want to make the most of it? Try our cauliflower cheese, broccoli and Stilton soup or our aubergine and pepper parmigiana.

For more information on vitamin B12 levels in food, check out healthline.com

*Please note—this article doesn’t constitute medical advice.

7 thoughts on “Vitamin B12 and Diabetes”

  1. Also worth pointing out that not only can it be driven low by metformin but malabsorption may occur for other reasons – my mother had Crohn’s and a subsequent operation and needed injections rather than dietary supplements. Also low in many vegans, there aren’t many (any?) vegetable sources.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the US we have had it driven home that T1’s should take Vitamin D supplement. I suppose that Vitamin A is just as important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know about vitamin D through my own research, but it isn’t promoted to we type 1s. And living in Scotland, we don’t see enough sunshine most years to make it that way!

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      1. I asked for a vitamin D test the other year and was surprised that it was permitted. It came back at 95. Doctor was surprised and you should have seen her face when I said

        “Oh that’ll be all the grass fed butter and cheese then!”

        Probably also getting out in the sun a lot, we get more than you here in Suffolk but then we have winds which come straight from the Urals, what we call a “lazy wind” because it can’t be bothered to go around, it cuts straight through you.

        I remember rickets making a reappearance in Scotland some years back, how’s that going?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I lived in Norfolk for a while and I remember those winds… There is more encouragement in Scotland to take vitamin D, but I think it helps if you also have an awareness of the vitamin and risks of deficiencies, which tends to apply more to privileged sections of the population.

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