Heartburn drugs linked to vitamin deficiency | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Heartburn drugs linked to vitamin deficiency

People who take Nexium, Prilosec and other medicines more prone to low B12 levels

4:06pm, December 10, 2013

Knocking down stomach acid may come with a cost. People with a deficiency in vitamin B12 are more likely to regularly use popular heartburn drugs than those who aren’t deficient, researchers find. The connection suggests that the drugs interfere with the digestive process that extracts the vitamin from foods.

Researchers analyzing a large database of medical records report in the Dec. 11 JAMA that taking proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, was associated with a two-thirds increase in the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. A chronic B12 shortage can lead to anemia, nerve damage and dementia.

PPIs, sold as Nexium, Prilosec and other brands, curb the stomach’s production of acid. This reduces reflux, in which stomach acid splashes up into the tender esophagus and causes heartburn.

But stomach acid is needed for digestion, part of which involves carving vitamin B12 out of proteins in foods. By

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content