How to Deal with the Side Effects of Metformin

Side effects of metformin are due to interferes of metformin with the absorption, synthesis, transportation, storage, metabolism and excretion of certain nutrients in your body. This happens due to long term use of the medication.

Updated: December 4, 2017

Side effects of metformin are due to interferes of metformin with the absorption, synthesis, transportation, storage, metabolism and excretion of certain nutrients in your body. This happens due to long term use of the medication.
Metformin is a prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes by help lowering your blood sugar levels to a target range. If diabetics can get these vital nutrients back into their body by food suppliments, the side effects of metformin could be reduced or even prevented in some cases.

Symptoms Due To Nutrient Loss Caused By Metformin:

Fatigue:

Vitamin B12, Folic Acid or Vitamin B9, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) are the nutrients needed to create red blood cells of the right size in the body. These nutrients also helps the cells to produce energy. Long term use of metformin can reduce the level of these nutrients leading to feelings of tiredness, weakness and in some cases, even anemia.

Diabetic Neuropathy:

Vitamin B12 is critical for nerve insulation. It is an essential nutrient to keep the nerves healthy. Metformin interferes with B12 absorption in the body which leads to nerves becoming extra sensitive. Tingling or numb hands and feet could be felt in deficiency of vitamin B12.

Brain Fog:

Memory and cognition issues could be a result of vitamin B12 deficiency. With age, your body produce lesser stomach acid and intrinsic factor, both of which are important for digestion and absorption of Vitamin B12 from regular food sources. So the risk of symptoms relating to a B12 deficiency increases in elderly diabetics. The symptoms include confusion, memory loss, moodiness, abnormal gait, agitation, dizziness, delusions, dementia and even hallucinations.

Skin And Hair Issues:

Deficiency of vitamin B9 or folic Acid could cause hair loss. Vitamin B12 loss could cause your skin to bruise easily and make it more sensitive.

Digestive Issues:

CoQ10 deficiency could cause gum problems, while that of Vitamins B9 and B12 could cause diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite.

Muscle Pains, Cramps, Swollen Feet and Cardiac/Heart Issues:

The heart is the most important muscle in the human body. Metformin causes reduction of CoQ10, which is essential for  energy production in muscle. Loss of CoQ10 causes a feeling of heaviness in the heart as well as  swelling in the legs and feet. Lack of CoQ10 can lead to:

  • Angina which causes discomfort in the chest
  • Cardiac arrhythmia which is irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Serious conditions like congestive heart failure, mitral valve prolapse and stroke.
  • Cardiomyopathy which will have labored breathing, swelling of feet, bloated belly

How To Get Relief From Metformin Side Effects?

The most common side effects of metformin such as nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea can be relieved by

Adjusting the dose of metformin:

Start with a lower dose than the one prescribed previously and then slowly increase it to adjust the symptoms.

Take the medicine with meals:

Taking medicine with meals instead of taking it on an empty stomach can reduce the side effects as it works at a time when blood sugar is higher.

Use a slow-release version of metformin:

Sustain release version will impact low and have reduced side effects as the medicine will be released slowly in your bloodstream.

Dietary Supplements For Relief From Metformin Side Effects:

The dose of dietary supplements depends on your age and health condition. It is always advisable to consult your medical doctor for what supplement and dosage that would suit you best.

Vitamin B12:

This essential micronutrient affects the development and maintenance of red blood cells, nerve cells, and normal covering of nerve cells. Animal derived foods are the best food sources of vitamin B12, including dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, and shellfish. If you have trouble absorbing this vitamin from the stomach because of your health condition, deficiency of this vitamin can occur.
Sublingual (under the tongue) tablets and oral spray forms of vitamin B12, both of which are absorbed by the blood vessels in the mouth, are often recommended in these condition.

Folic Acid or Vitamin B9:

It can be taken separately or may be combined with Vitamin B12 and other Vitamins in the B family in a single Vitamin B-complex capsule.

CoQ10:

CoQ10 is naturally present in organ meats such as heart, liver, and kidney, as well as beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts. The dietary supplement is also known as Q10, vitamin Q10, ubiquinone, or ubidecarenone.
Dietary supplements can help you reduce the dose of prescription drugs and their side effects by supporting better blood sugar control. To get rid of side effects of metformin, you should also try to reduce metformin doses with Diet, exercise and stress management.


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