HEALTH

Study: Metformin may cause vitamin B12 deficiency

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A commonly prescribed diabetes drug may cause a vitamin deficiency over time, a new study found.

Dutch scientists, led by Coen Stehouwer of Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, found that prolonged use of metformin  to treat diabetes may drive down vitamin B12 levels in diabetic patients.

The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, reviewed 390 patients with Type 2 diabetes. Of the group, 196 of them were administered metformin three times a day for more than four years. The remaining 194 patients were given a placebo. Stehouwer and colleagues found that 19% of the subjects had reduced B12 vitamin levels and progressively worsened over time, compared with the placebo group, which had almost no change.

“Our study shows that it is reasonable to assume harm will eventually occur in some patients with metformin-induced low vitamin B12 levels,” Stehouwer wrote.

In related news, a recent study published late last month found that diabetic nephropathy patients that receive high-dose vitamin B therapy are more likely to have decreased kidney function and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Lack of fiber in Americans’ diet caused by negative perception, Mintel finds

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Recent Mintel research released Thursday found that fiber is noticeably absent from the typical American’s diet. One-in-3 respondents to a recent survey considered their diet to be healthy, but only 1-in-5 reported actively looking for and buying products with added health claims. Based on these results, only a minority of adults are likely to be interested in fiber-enhanced products with digestive claims.

While 30% of consumers say they make it a point to eat naturally fiber-rich foods, studies show most Americans are failing to meet their recommended daily fiber intake. This may be explained by the 27% of respondents who think food with added fiber usually has an unpleasant taste.

“Many people have negative perceptions about the taste of fiber,” stated Molly Heyl-Rushmer, senior health-and-wellness analyst at Mintel. “The taste deters them from eating a fiber-added product that has numerous health benefits.”

As many as 25% of respondents think fiber only is necessary for those who suffer from irregularity or other digestive problems, with men being more likely than women to hold this belief. And 30% of men (compared with 23% of women) also believe supplements are just as effective as fiber-enriched foods.

Despite the fact that research shows that a lack of fiber is linked to various cancers, heart disease and diabetes, 22% of consumers don’t know enough about fiber to know if it is important to their health. Furthermore, 37% believe they can get enough fiber from regular foods, so supplements and food with added fiber are unnecessary.

“Consumers are more likely to report limiting sugar, fat, sodium, and calorie intake than they are to eat naturally fiber-rich foods,” Heyl-Rushmer noted. “Adults don’t fully understand the link between fiber and health.”

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Survey: Many Americans look to be prepared for an emergency

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A new Red Cross survey released Wednesday found that 68% of Americans have been involved in some kind of summer emergency, ranging from insect bites, heat stroke and broken bones to more life-threatening situations.

Americans plan to be very active this summer, as the survey found that more than 40% will go hiking or camping and almost 75% will go swimming. While people expect to be active, the Red Cross found that many were not confident they knew what to do in an emergency – less than two-thirds felt confident helping a heat stroke victim and fewer than half could help someone with an allergic reaction to an insect or snake bite.

The survey found that nearly 90% of Americans said they want to be prepared for an emergency, but they don’t know where to start or what to do.

“With so many people outdoors camping, hiking and swimming, it’s important that someone in every household get trained in CPR and first aid skills,” stated Connie Harvey, health and safety expert for the American Red Cross “Learning these lifesaving skills is easier and more convenient than you might think, and Red Cross training can help people prevent and respond to life’s emergencies – big or small.”

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