The link between vitamin B deficiency and diseases associated with the nervous system and diabetes is well known but most people are diagnosed for the deficiency when they are suffering from acute complications.
Doctors and experts made the comment while speaking during a recent seminar organised by Merck Pharmaceuticals to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of its brand of vitamin B tablets, Neurobion.
Prof. Dr Niaz Ahmed Shaikh, a professor of medicine at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, spoke about the complications that rise due to deficiencies of vitamin B1, B6 and B12, and how they can affect a person’s quality of life. Vitamin B1 deficiency is common among diabetics. Lack of thiamine leads to a shortage of energy at the cellular level, and adversely affects the nervous system. Vitamin B6 deficiency, meanwhile, can weaken the body’s immune system and lead to dermatitis with cheilosis and glossitis, depression, and even seizures. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common among people suffering from type 2 diabetes. These patients are at risk for hyperhomocysteinemia, megaloblastic anemia, and symptoms associated with a damaged nervous system.
Shaikh said that nearly 183 million people suffer from diabetes without knowing about it, even though they suffer from diabetes-related complications like kidney disease, heart failure, retinopathy and neuropathy.
Prof Dr Jamal Ara, professor of medicine at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, said that the number of diabetics all over the world is expected to increase from 366 million in 2011 to 552 million by 2030.
Dr Zahid Miyan, a diabetologist at the Baqai Institite of Diabetology and Endocrinology, said that nearly 80 per cent of diabetics belong to the lower or middle income groups. According to estimates, 25per cent of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients would develop early-stage diabetic nephropathy within the next 10 years. Miyan said that studies indicate that thiamine supplements can reverse diabetes induced renal damage, or slow down the progression of diabetic nephropathy.
Prof. Dr Abu Noem Faruqui, a consultant physician at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and the Karachi Medical and Dental College, pointed out that malnutrition was a major cause of vitamin B deficiency among people living in developing countries.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.