Vitamin B Deficiency and Diabetes

7 minutes read

The number of people living with diabetes is increasing every year. As a disease that varies considerably in presentation and progression, diabetes is a burdensome disease affecting people worldwide. But what role does Vitamin B deficiency play in diabetes, and why is Vitamin B so important? Read on to find out more.

In this article:
Vitamin B Deficiency and Diabetes

What is diabetes? 1-5

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases affecting how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is an essential energy source for the cells that make up the muscles and tissues. It's also the brain's main source of fuel. No matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess glucose in the blood, which can cause serious health problems. As a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide, the International Diabetes Federation estimates that 552 million people will have some type of diabetes by 2030. 

There are different types of diabetes, the most prominent being chronic diabetes conditions called type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. These types are lifelong disorders which are affected by variations in diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.  

Type 1 Diabetes 4

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition. In this condition, the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to allow glucose to enter cells to produce energy. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults. 

Type 2 Diabetes 5

Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in how the body regulates and uses glucose as a fuel, which results in too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream. In type 2 diabetes, there are two problems at work: 

  1. Your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the movement of glucose into your cells, and 

  2. Your cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less glucose 

Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can begin during childhood and adulthood. Type 2 is more common in older adults, but the increase in children with obesity has led to more cases of type 2 diabetes in younger people. 

How Is Vitamin B Deficiency and Diabetes Related? 6-9

B vitamins are essential cofactors and coenzymes in several metabolic pathways in your body. Since diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder, it makes sense then that one can impact the other. Vitamin B deficiency is prevalent in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It presents with diverse clinical manifestations, including peripheral neuropathy. Some B vitamins, called neurotropic B vitamins, have an important role in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which means that adequate levels of Vitamin B are crucial to keeping your nerves healthy. In fact, studies have shown that people with diabetes who experience peripheral neuropathy have low levels of Vitamin B. Additionally, many people with diabetes who manage their diabetes with a drug for their condition experience low levels of Vitamin B12. The American Diabetes Association guidelines now recommend routine evaluation for Vitamin B12 deficiency in people with diabetes who take certain medication for diabetes. 

What are the causes of Diabetes? 1

To understand what causes diabetes, it is necessary first to know how your body normally uses glucose. 

Your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin into your bloodstream, which circulates and allows glucose to enter your body’s cells. This lowers the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. As your blood glucose level drops, so do the amount of insulin your pancreas releases. Glucose is a source of energy for your body’s cells which you get from the food you eat. It is stored in your liver, so when your glucose levels are low, like when you haven’t eaten in a while, your liver releases some stored glucose to keep your glucose level in the normal range.  

Diabetes is caused by a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin.   

Are There Diabetes Risk Factors? 4 5

The different types of diabetes have different risk factors. 

Type 1 Diabetes Risk Factors 4

Some factors that can raise your risk of type 1 diabetes include: 

  • Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly higher risk of developing it. 

  • Age. Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, but it appears at two noticeable peaks. The first peak occurs in children between 4 and 7 years old. The second is in children between10 and 14 years old. 

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors 5

Factors that may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes include: 

  • Weight. Being overweight or obese is the main risk. 

  • Fat distribution. Storing fat mainly in your abdomen - rather than your hips and thighs - indicates a greater risk.  

  • Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps control your weight, uses glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. 

  • Family history. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes. 

  • Race and ethnicity. People of certain races and ethnicities - including Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian people, and Pacific Islanders - are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. 

  • Age. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45. 

How Does My Doctor Diagnose Diabetes? 10

Your doctor will conduct a battery of tests if they suspect that you might have diabetes. Common tests for type 1 and type 2 diabetes include: 

Glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test 10

This blood test, which doesn't require you to fast, shows your average blood glucose level for the past 2 to 3 months. It measures the percentage of blood glucose attached to haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood glucose levels, the more haemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. Other blood tests that can be taken include: 

  • Random blood glucose test.  

  • Fasting blood glucose test. 

Oral glucose tolerance test 10

For this test, you fast overnight. Then, the fasting blood glucose level is measured. Then you drink a sugary liquid, and blood glucose levels are tested regularly for the next two hours. 

Sometimes, your doctor will also run some tests that specifically look for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. For example, your doctor might test your urine to look for the presence of ketones if they think you may have type 1 diabetes. This is why you need to consult with a healthcare professional if you think you may have diabetes or be at risk for diabetes.  

How Will My Diabetes Be Treated? 10

How your diabetes is treated will depend on the type of diabetes you have. Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves insulin injections or an insulin pump, frequent blood glucose checks, and carbohydrate counting. Treatment of type 2 diabetes mostly involves lifestyle changes, like adjusting your diet, monitoring your blood glucose, and taking diabetes drugs, insulin or both. 

In Short

Diabetes is a serious disease. Following your diabetes treatment plan takes total commitment, and you need to carefully manage your diabetes to lower your risk of serious or life-threatening complications. Vitamin B deficiency can make your diabetes symptoms worse and even cause you to experience additional problems, so you need to monitor your levels of Vitamin B and speak with your doctor about taking vitamin B supplements like Neurobion® to help you manage your symptoms. 

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor

Talk to your doctor about the Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) formulation, dose and duration of treatment that is appropriate for you.

Article Sources

¹ Mayo Clinic. Diabetes: Symptoms & Causes [online]. 2022, Aug 09 [cited 2022, Sep 04]. Available from: URL:

² Alam, U., Asghar, O., Azmi, S., & Malik, R.A. (2014). General aspects of diabetes mellitus. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 126, 211-22.

³ Shivashankar, M., & Mani, D. (2011). A brief overview of diabetes. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 3(4), 22-7.

⁴ Mayo Clinic. Type 1 Diabetes: Symptoms & Causes [online]. 2022, Jul 07 [cited 2022, Sep 04]. Available from: URL:

⁵ Mayo Clinic. Type 2 Diabetes: Symptoms & Causes [online]. 2021, Jan 20 [cited 2022, Sep 04]. Available from: URL:

⁶ Yoshii, K., Hosomi, K., Sawane, K., & Kunisawa, J. (2019). Metabolism of dietary and microbial vitamin B family in the regulation of host immunity. Frontiers in Nutrition, 6, 48.

⁷ Liu, L., Huang, X., Wang, B., Song, Y., Lin, T., Zhou, Z., … & Yang, Y. (2020). Vitamin B12 and risk of diabetes: new insight from cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of the China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial (CSPPT). BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, 8(1), e001423.

⁸ Calderón‐Ospina, C.A., & Nava‐Mesa, M.O. (2020). B Vitamins in the nervous system: Current knowledge of the biochemical modes of action and synergies of thiamine, pyridoxine, and cobalamin. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 26(1), 5-13.

⁹ Alvarez, M., Sierra, O.R., Saavedra, G., & Moreno, S. (2019). Vitamin B12 deficiency and diabetic neuropathy in patients taking certain medications for diabetes: a cross-sectional study. Endocrine Connections, 8(10), 1324-9.

¹⁰ Mayo Clinic. Diabetes: Diagnosis & Treatment [online]. 2022, Aug 09 [cited 2022, Sep 04]. Available from: URL:

*Neurobion® is indicated for Vitamin B deficiency.

Applicant: P&G South African Trading (Pty) Ltd. Reg. No.: 1989/004241/07. |S1| Neurobion® Tablets. Each tablet contains Vitamin B1 100 mg, Vitamin B6 200 mg and Vitamin B12 200 μg. Reg. No.: H2487 (Act 101/1965).
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