Sunday, December 15, 2013

Acid-Suppressing Drugs Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people who use certain acid-suppressing drugs for two years or longer are at increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.
December 10, 2013

This can lead to anemia, neuropathy, depression, fatigue, or dementia. The drugs are proton-pump inhibitors, or P.P.I.’s and histamine 2 receptor antagonists. They are available by prescription and over the counter under names like Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium. Nearly 157 million prescriptions were written for P.P.I.’s in 2012.

“People who are taking this medications are more likely than the average person to be vitamin B12 deficient, and it’s a potentially serious problem,” said Dr. Douglas Corley, senior author of the study. Of note, the study was funded by Pfizer, which makes a P.P.I. called Protonix.

Patients who took P.P.I.’s for more than two years were 65 percent more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency, the researchers found. Higher doses of P.P.I’s were more strongly associated with the vitamin deficiency, as well.

These drugs prevent the stomach from manufacturing hydrochloric acid (HCl) thus reducing the symptoms of acid reflux. However, HCl is the first major step in digestion. It breaks down protein, separates calcium ions from their substrate, and prepares vitamin B12 for assimilation in the small intestine. It is also the triggering mechanism for the gallbladder to release bile and the second major step in digestion once the food bolus enters the small intestine. We now know (and have predicted) that P.P.I.’s cause osteoporosis, anemia, dysbiosis, and chronic Candida infections. Clinically, I see frequent gallbladder congestion associated as well.

Unfortunately, if you burp once in a while, that seems to be enough criteria to prescribe one of these drugs. A simple test of the pH of the stomach will detect over-acid production, but the testing is seldom run. A lack of HCl production will also cause acid reflux, as the food putrefies, producing organic acids in the stomach. It is estimated that a lack of HCl accounts for 50 percent of the cases of acid reflux.

The cause in most cases is poor diet. Food sensitivities, over eating, excessive fat and sometimes even poor food combining are real issues. When a patient obtains relieve from the drug, they continue their poor eating habits further compromising general health.

Avoid these P.P.I,’s like the plague! Your symptoms are warning signals that the digestive tract is in trouble. Have your diet evaluated. Often just reducing caloric intake will dramatically improve or eliminate symptoms.