Vitamin B shows protective effect on kidney health in children with diabetes

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01 Oct 2018 --- Simple supplementation of vitamin B complex may protect against the development and progression of kidney disease in children with Type 1 diabetes, according to research presented at the 57th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting last week. Vitamin B could thus help promote improved health and quality of life in adulthood, the researchers say.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood and can lead to serious and debilitating complications, including diabetic kidney disease. This common complication develops over many years but has no symptoms in the early stages, so if undetected can necessitate long-term, intensive or expensive treatments, and lead to earlier death in adulthood. 

Vitamin B deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of kidney damage and is often observed in children and adults with Type 1 diabetes. However, whether supplements can improve blood glucose regulation or kidney function in vitamin B deficient Type 1 diabetic children had not yet been fully investigated.

Professor Nancy Samir Elbarbary and colleagues at Ain Shams University in Cairo studied 80 vitamin B12-deficient, Type 1 diabetics, aged 12-18 years, with early signs of diabetic kidney disease.

Over a 12-week period, the study participants were given either vitamin B supplements or no treatment. 

After 12 weeks, the children given vitamin B supplements showed significant changes in several blood markers that overall indicated improvements in their blood glucose regulation and kidney function, the researchers report.

“After 12 weeks of vitamin B complex supplementation in children and adolescents with diabetic kidney disease, we detected lower levels of markers that indicate poor kidney function, suggesting that it had a protective effect and could slow progression of the disease,” Professor Elbarbary states.

“Although the best strategy for treating diabetic kidney disease is prevention, for example through better blood glucose control and maintenance of healthy blood pressure, a normal lipid profile and a healthy body weight, the long-term duration of diabetes still increases the risk of developing kidney disease,” says Elbarbary. “So, these findings suggest vitamin B supplementation, in addition to traditional angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy may be a simple, safe and cost-effective strategy for early protection of kidney function, which may improve the long-term quality of life for Type 1 diabetes patients.” 

The researchers note that although the findings still need to be confirmed in larger, multicenter randomized trials to verify the role of vitamin B complex supplementation in treating early diabetic kidney disease over longer periods, these early results are a promising start.

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