A study from Idaho State University shows that drugs to reduce stomach acidity may decrease a person’s ability to absorb vitamin B12. Lack of vitamin B12 is common and can cause depression, loss of intelligence and nerve damage.

Vitamin B12 is found only in animals and is not found in the plant world. So complete vegans who eat no animal products can suffer from low levels unless they take vitamin B12 in supplements or fortified foods. Lack of B12 is also caused by lack of intrinsic factor, a chemical produced by the stomach to facilitate absorption of B12; or by celiac disease, in which a person’s intestines are damaged by glutin found in wheat, rye and barley.

Doctors often treat people who have belching or stomach burning with drugs to shut off stomach acidity. This study shows that lack of stomach acid can also cause low B12 levels and resultant nerve damage.

Increased vitamin B-12 requirement associated with chronic acid suppression therapy. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 2003, Vol 37, Iss 4, pp 490-493. RW Force, AD Meeker, PS Cady, VL Culbertson, WS Force, CM Kelley. Force WS, Idaho State Univ, Dept Family Med, Campus Box 8357, Pocatello,ID 83209 USA

Checked 5/3/07