Can vitamin B12 help with oral health or diabetes?

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Getting enough vitamin B12 is important to overall health, including oral health, but doctors aren't sure exactly how this vitamin may affect your teeth and gums. The role of vitamin B12 in diabetes also remains to be completely investigated.

A swollen red tongue and/or bleeding gums are symptoms of a type of anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. These symptoms can sometimes be improved by taking vitamin B12 supplements or injections. However, more study is needed to understand the role of vitamin B12 in oral health.

Whether vitamin B12 may help with diabetes is also unclear, although both B12 and diabetes are involved in metabolism. Vitamin B12 and all B vitamins are essential to normal metabolism and your body's ability to turn the food you eat into energy. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body cannot use the sugar from foods correctly. Some diabetes medications may decrease your body's ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food. More research is needed to understand the relationship between vitamin B12 and diabetes.

Vitamin B12 is found in supplements and in foods derived from animals, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. If you think you are not getting enough vitamin B12, consult your doctor. A simple blood test can measure your vitamin B12 levels, and your doctor can advise you on whether or not you need vitamin B12 supplements.
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There is not enough information to know what role, if any, B12 supplementation plays in oral health or diabetes. Some strict vegetarians suffer from B12 deficiency, which can actually cause an oral health problem called megaloblastic anemia. A dentist can diagnose this kind of anemia. This is a condition where painful red sores and inflammation of the tongue occur because there is not enough B12. It is sometimes accompanied by thrush.

B12's role in diabetes is only a little better understood. One diabetes medication is metformin, which helps the body use glucose more effectively. But metformin reduces the absorption of B12 as an unwanted side effect. Calcium has been studied as a way to counteract this, with some success. Milk and fish are good sources of vitamin B12, along with poultry and eggs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.