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Vitamin B12 for diabetic retinopathy.

Fifteen patients with type 1 diabetes received 100 [mu]g per day of vitamin B12 subcutaneously along with insulin for two years. The mean duration of diabetes prior to vitamin B12 treatment was 11.8 years, and all of the patients had retinopathy. After one year of treatment, signs of retinopathy had disappeared in 7 of 15 patients. After 2 years, 8 of 15 were free of retinopathy. Vitamin B12 treatment was also associated with an increased feeling of well-being. Vitamin B12 was effective only in patients with incipient hemorrhagic retinopathy whose disease started before age 10. In a group of 22 adult diabetics, vitamin B12 was not beneficial.


Comment: This study suggests that diabetic retinopathy can be reversed (and presumably prevented) in a subset of patients with type 1 diabetes by administering daily injections of 100 [mu]g vitamin B12. While controlled trials are needed to confirm this report, vitamin B12 is safe and inexpensive, so it would be reasonable to administer it to children and teenagers with incipient hemorrhagic retinopathy whose disease started before age 10. In addition, it would be reasonable to administer vitamin B12 to patients with type 1 diabetes who do not have retinopathy, since vitamin B12 might prevent retinopathy from developing. This report was published more than a half-century ago, so a follow-up study is long overdue.

Kornerup T, Strom L. Vitamin B12 and retinopathy in juvenile diabetics. Acta Paediatr. 1958;47:646-651.

by Alan R. Gaby, MD
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Title Annotation:Literature Review & Commentary
Author:Gaby, Alan R.
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
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