Ulcer and Heartburn medication causes vitamin B12 deficiency.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has directly attributed the use of medication for heart burn and ulcers to a vitamin B 12 deficiency. In 2012, about 15 million Americans received 157 million prescriptions for a class of anti-acid medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). A wide range of the culprit medication is available over the counter without a prescription.

Vitamin B deficiency increases the risk of significant medical complications including dimentia, nerve damage and anemia. The acid produced in the stomach assists in B12 absorbtion.

Researchers investigated the health records of 25, 956 Kaiser permanente patients medically diagnosed with vitamin B deficiency compared to 184,199 patients that were not vitamin B 12 deficient.

“Patients who took PPI medications for more than two years had a 65 percent increase in their risk of B12 deficiency,” said Douglas A. Corley, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “Higher doses also were associated with an increased risk, compared with lower doses. Kaiser Permanente’s electronic health records allowed us to look at what happens in the real world for these commonly used medications.”

“This research raises the question of whether people who are taking acid-depressing medications long term should be screened for vitamin B12 deficiency,” Dr. Corley said. “It’s a relatively simple blood test, and vitamin supplements are an effective way of managing the vitamin deficiency, if it is found.”


Kaiser Permanente (2013, December 10).

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