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Can vitamin B protect against complications of diabetes in children?

New research evaluated the effects of vitamin B supplements in protecting against kidney damage due to type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone needed for the transport and conversion of glucose into energy. In the absence of insulin, blood glucose levels become abnormally high. Often, type 1 diabetes initially develops in children and adolescents. This form of diabetes in children, also known as juvenile diabetes, requires patients to take insulin daily throughout their life.

Complications of type 1 diabetes

The common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include persistent thirst, irritability, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, and blurry vision. If not treated, type 1 diabetes may cause acute complications such as severe dehydration and diabetic ketoacidosis. In the long term, type 1 diabetes may result in diabetic kidney disease, heart disease, nerve damage, eye damage, hypertension, and stroke. If undetected, these complications associated with diabetes in children may lead to earlier death in adulthood.

The role of nutrition and supplements in type 1 diabetes

In addition to conventional treatment for type 1 diabetes, the types of foods diabetics eat play a significant role in the management of the disease. Research has shown that several nutrients and supplements such as magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, may be helpful for people with diabetes.

Diabetes in children increases the risk of developing kidney disease. Although the disease progresses slowly if left undiagnosed and untreated, it may lead to complications that need intensive treatments. There is evidence to show that vitamin B deficiency increases the risk of kidney damage associated with type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents. However, the role of vitamin B supplementation in improving blood glucose regulation or kidney function in vitamin B deficient children had not been investigated so far and is an area of rising interest for the management of diabetes in children.

Vitamin B supplements for diabetes in children

A new study presented at the recent 57th annual meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology held in Greece investigated the effect of vitamin B supplements on kidney function in children and adolescents with type-1 diabetes. The study included 80 vitamin B-12 deficient, type 1 diabetics between 12-18 years of age. All participants had early signs of diabetic kidney disease at the start of the study. The researchers randomly assigned patients to receive either routine treatment or additional vitamin B supplements over a 12-week study period.

Protective effects of vitamin B against kidney damage

The results showed significant changes in the blood markers of kidney function in children who were given additional vitamin B supplements. These changes indicated that additional vitamin B supplements led to improvements in the blood glucose regulation and kidney function of these patients.  The findings of this study clearly suggested the protective effect of vitamin B against kidney damage caused by diabetes in children and adolescents.

Is vitamin B supplementation the new strategy for diabetes management?

Researchers indicated that these results mark a promising start to the use of vitamin B supplementation, in addition to the traditional angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy, for treating early diabetic kidney disease. They recommended prevention through better blood glucose control as the best strategy for treating diabetic kidney disease.

Since this study had a small sample size, the researchers expressed the need to confirm the results in larger, multicenter randomized trials.

Vitamin B may improve health and overall quality of life for children with diabetes

This study brings forward a simple and cost-effective solution for the management of diabetes in children and adolescents. Vitamin B supplementation can boost kidney function by protecting against kidney damage caused by diabetes in children and adolescents. In combination with the traditional treatment, taking vitamin B supplements may improve health and overall quality of life of children with type 1 diabetes.

Written by Preeti Paul, MS Biochemistry

Reference: Public release: 28-SEP-2018, Vitamin B supplements may protect kidney function in children with diabetes. 57th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology.

Preeti Paul MSc
Preeti Paul MSc
Preeti has a Master’s degree in Biochemistry. Her career interests include scientific services and clinical research. She is passionate about the dissemination of scientific information to the public. As a medical content writer, Preeti aims to be instrumental in shaping the transmission of scientific advances to the general public so that they can make informed decisions. In her free time, she likes to travel, cook and advocate toxin-free living.
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