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Excess B-Vitamin may worsen Kidney Problems

Diabetics should realize that even good things, when taken in excess, can lead to bad results. And vitamins are no exception to this universal rule. This includes B-complex vitamins which diabetics frequently take, sometimes in big doses.

A report from the Journal of the American Medical Association said that a high-dose B vitamin therapy may not be helpful in treating diabetic nephropathy, a kidney disease which impairs kidney function. In fact, the article further revealed that excess B vitamins can actually decrease glomerular filtration, indicating deterioration in kidney function.

Diabetic nephropathy usually afflicts long standing diabetics. When left unchecked, this can lead to kidney failure, and subsequently to chronic dialysis. Kidney transplantation is the only hope of these patients to be liberated from a lifelong need for dialysis. Patients with diabetic nephropathy also frequently suffer from hyperhomocysteinemia, an excess in an amino acid which can lead to cardiovascular diseases.

Select medical centers in Canada conducted an experiment to see whether B vitamin supplementation can delay the progress of diabetic nephropathy and its effects. A total of 238 type 1 or type 2 diabetic patients were randomly assigned to receive a single tablet daily. The tablet either contains folic acid (2.5 mg/day), vitamin B6 (25 mg/day) and vitamin B12 (1 mg/day), or simply a placebo (dummy pill or inactive substance).

The results of the test proved surprising: despite the lowering of the plasma concentration of homocysteine me, likely due to the B-complex, the therapy also showed a reduction in the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and raised the risk of blood-related events (i.e. stroke or heart attack), compared to the placebo. A reduced GFR has been linked to increased cardiovascular risk in other studies.

“Clearly, the results call for caution in using high dose B vitamins (pharmacological doses) in high risk patients like diabetes patients with diabetic nephropathy,” said Dr. Troels Krarup Hansen, MD, an associate professor at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, in an interview with Medscape Diabetes & Endocrinology.

“On the other hand it is important to stress that the results do not imply that multivitamins containing usual low doses of B vitamins are harmful,” added the doctor.

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