Some studies have found an association between heartburn medications and increased risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Medicines to treat heartburn, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), work by suppressing stomach acid. Blocking stomach acid and other secretions may also block B-12 absorption.
Why is this important? Vitamin B-12 deficiency has potentially serious and sometimes irreversible complications if undiagnosed and untreated. These can include dementia, disorientation, neurological damage, gait disturbance and anemia.
Two common types of GERD medicines have been associated with B-12 deficiency to varying degrees:
- H-2-receptor blockers. Examples include cimetidine, famotidine and ranitidine.
- Proton pump inhibitors. Examples include omeprazole, esomeprazole and lansoprazole.
With either type of medication, the risk of B-12 deficiency was significantly increased when taken daily for two years or more.
If you're concerned about your vitamin B-12 level, talk with your doctor. If low B-12 is an issue, ask if a lower dose of your medicine would be effective in controlling your symptoms or whether you should take a vitamin B-12 supplement.
June 25, 2022
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See more Expert Answers
- Miller JW. Proton pump inhibitors, H2-receptor antagonists, metformin, and vitamin B-12 deficiency: Clinical implications. Advanced Nutrition. 2018; doi:10.1093/advances/nmy023.
- Means RT, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed July 1, 2020.
- Cagle S, et al. Does long-term use of proton pump inhibitors cause B12 deficiency? Evidence-Based Practice. 2019; doi:10.1097/EBP.0000000000000229.