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Long-term use of some antacids can trigger vitamin deficiency

Wednesday - 12/11/2013, 2:20pm  ET

WASHINGTON - A type of antacid sold under brand names such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium can increase risk of vitamin B12 deficiency when taken for more than two years.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association links long-term use of protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) with the body failing to absorb vitamin B12 appropriately.

"Patients who took PPI medications for more than two years had a 65 percent increase in their risk of B12 deficiency," said Douglas A. Corley, a gastroenterologist and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in a news release.

The risk also increases with higher doses of the drugs compared with lower doses.

There's an easy fix though, according to Corley, who says a relatively simple blood test can determine whether it's happening. If so, the issue can be resolved easily by taking vitamin supplements, he says.

Vitamin B12 deficiency left untreated can have dire consequences including dementia, nerve damage, and anemia.

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