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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Do You Take Diabetic Medication? : Be Sure to Supplement with Vital Nutrients

Jul 28, 2013 12:47PM ● By Theresa Luu, M.D.

Diabetes has become an epidemic in the United States, affecting 26 million Americans. Most diabetic patients have type 2 diabetes, which is often initially managed by modifying the diet and increasing exercise. However, medications are typically needed as the disease progresses.

If you’re on a diabetic medication, there’s a good chance that the medication is robbing your body of vital nutrients.

The number one diabetes drug is metformin (also known as Glucophage), well known to cause the depletion of vitamin B12, coenzyme Q10, folic acid, and magnesium. The second best-selling class of oral diabetes drug includes glipizide (Glucotrol) and glyburide (Diabeta), both also known to cause coenzyme Q10 deficiency.

The Importance of B12
Vitamin B12 is essential to maintaining healthy nerve and red blood cells and required in the production of DNA. Thus, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia, neuropathy, memory loss, confusion, and even dementia. Research has shown that up to 30 percent of patients taking metformin suffer chronic vitamin B12 deficiency. So it’s important for anyone taking metformin on a continuing basis to have his or her vitamin B12 levels checked. Fortunately, taking oral vitamin B12 supplements will generally correct any deficiency caused by the drug.

Dangers of CoQ10 Deficiencies
Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from DNA damage. CoQ10 is required for the production of cellular energy in the body, so a deficiency can cause severe physical and mental fatigue. People with low levels of this enzyme may feel tired upon waking or exhausted after minimal activity in addition to having difficulty concentrating and suffering memory lapses. They also experience mood changes such as irritability, decreased ability to handle stress, loss of enthusiasm and even depression. In addition, people with CoQ10 deficiency often experience frequent headaches, jaw pain, and muscle and joint aches.

To reduce these potential serious drug-induced side effects, patients on long-term oral hypoglycemic therapy require supplementation of these nutrients. A multivitamin is invaluable in allowing patients to maintain adequate levels of vitamin B12, folic acid, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10. In many cases, this can increase the effectiveness and compliance of the medication, reduce the incidence of the side effects, and contribute to a longer, healthier life.

As consumers, it’s important for all of us to be aware of drug-induced nutrient depletion, be vigilant in educating ourselves, and speak to our pharmacist or other healthcare professional when we have questions or concerns. We can avoid the side effects of nutrient depletion and control or minimize drug side effects while we prevent the longer-term health complications associated with DIND. Take control of your health to live a longer and healthier life!

Theresa Luu, M.D, is a cardiothoracic surgeon who over the last several years has done extensive research in integrative and nutritional medicine and realizes the importance of nutritional support in her cardiac patients. She routinely uses several nutritional supplements in treating all of her cardiac surgery patients preoperatively and postoperatively and has seen improved outcomes. Dr. Luu is currently conducting clinical studies to further evaluate the positive effects of nutritional supplements in cardiac patients and has led the clinical formulation of the first multivitamin line, Replenish Multivitamins, developed to address DIND.

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