Patients who use certain acid-suppressing drugs for heartburn over a period of two years or longer are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency than those who do not use them, according to a new study released Tuesday.
The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), are available by prescription and over-the-counter, under names such as Prilosec and Nexium. They are designed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, as well as other acid-related conditions.
Researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, looked at the medical records of 25,956 adults who received vitamin B12 deficiency diagnoses between 1997 and 2011, comparing them with 184,199 patients without B12 deficiencies.
They found patients who took PPIs for more than two years were 65% more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency and when patients were given higher doses of the PPIs, the deficiency was even more prevalent. The risk of deficiency was not has high in patients who used H2 blockers long-term: 4.2%, compared with 3.2% of nonusers.
But with both drug types, researchers say they believe this happens because these medications suppress the production of gastric acid, which keeps the body from absorbing vitamin B12.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education