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Metformin: Drug-Nutrient Interactions 

 

            While reviewing the journal:  Nutritional Wellness, I came across an interesting article about the potential interactions of the diabetes medication metformin and some nutrients.  Here are a few excerpts/key points of the article, followed by my own thoughts on the subject.

 

Key Points:

  • Metformin is a drug commonly used to control blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. According to Diabetes.org, 7.8 percent of Americans have diabetes, with 1.6 million new cases diagnosed every year.  In 2006, diabetes was listed as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • There are several supplements that have positive effects on decreasing blood-sugar levels. Although this is desirable, if you take Metformin, the combination can potentially lead to hypoglycemia, an undesirable outcome if not managed correctly.

Potential Positive Supplement Interactions with Metformin:

  • Vitamin B12: Consuming vitamin B12 while on metformin may combat B12 malabsorption/deficiency, as metformin is known to decrease B12 levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Consuming omega 3 EFAs may help reduce hypertriglyceridemia and heart disease associated with diabetes.
  • CoQ10: Consuming CoQ10 may improve blood sugar control as well as combat reduced CoQ10 production, as metformin is known to decrease CoQ10 production.

Potential Negative Supplement Interactions With Metformin:

  • Chromium: May help improve blood sugar control, which, when consumed with metformin, may ultimately lead to low blood sugar levels. Should be medically co-managed.
  • Cocoa (Theobroma cacao): May decrease the effect of metformin, causing potentially undesirable effects in patients dependent on the drug for blood sugar control.
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella sp.): As with chromium, may improve blood sugar control, which, when consumed with metformin, may ultimately lead to low blood sugar levels. Should be medically co-managed.

The findings above are not inclusive of the potential drug-nutrient interactions with metformin; they are just a sample of the information that has been researched. It is important for patients to consult with their doctor to analyze all medications and nutritional supplements for possible interactions.

Link to original article:

http://www.nutritionalwellness.com/archives/2010/aug/08_mexico_blood.php

  Dr. Levin’s Comments: 

  • Many people suffer with elevated blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is often the outcome of elevated blood sugar over time. 
  • If you are one of the close to 8% of Americans with Type 2 diabetes please be aware that chromium, Cocoa, and Fenugreek all have potential blood sugar lowering benefits. If you take these without monitoring your blood sugar, you could potentially lower your blood sugar too much (hypoglycemia) which can make you feel sluggish and lethargic and can be dangerous. 
  • If you do decide to try lowering your blood sugar with these you must alert your physician so that together you can monitor their benefits and potentially lower the amount of medication that you need to take.
  • Everyone should be taking omega 3’s. They are critically important for every aspect of your health including triglyceride levels and blood sugar handling, insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular protection. According to a recent document issued by THE MAYO CLINIC1, Even if you are on blood thinners, you can take omega 3’s (if you do take blood thinners-first consult with your doctor and show him/her the Mayo Clinic article). 
  • If you take Metformin, you should supplement with CoQ10 as the drug reduces your body’s natural production of CoQ10 which is critical for cellular energy production. 
  • If you take Lipitor or a Statin drug it becomes even more important to take CoQ10 as statin drugs also reduce your body’s production of CoQ10.
  • Both omega 3’s and CoQ10 are available on my website. If you sign up to receive my newsletter you will receive 25% off on your first order.