Vitamin B supplements have a protective effect on kidney function in children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes, according to new research.
The findings indicate that simple supplementation of vitamin B complex may protect against the development and progression of kidney disease in children with diabetes, which could promote improved health and quality of life in adulthood.
Type-1 diabetes is a life-long disease in which the body does not make enough insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. The condition 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 is associated with an increased risk of kidney damage and is often observed in children and adults with type-1 diabetes.
Whether supplements can improve blood glucose regulation or kidney function in children with Type 1 diabetes who are vitamin B deficient has not yet been fully investigated, and that is what Dr. Nancy Samir Elbarbary and her colleagues at Ain Shams University in Cairo, attempted to do.
Researchers looked at 80 vitamin B12-deficient adolescents with Type 1 diabetes, aged 12-18 years, with early signs of diabetic kidney disease.
They were given either vitamin B supplements or no treatment, over a 12-week period.
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.
“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,” Elbarbary said in a press release.
She comments 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, however, the long-term duration of diabetes still increases the risk of developing kidney disease.
Elbarbary and her team’s 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 patients with Type 1 diabetes.
Elbarbary acknowledges the study was relatively small, and the findings 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 long periods of time.
However, she says “these early results are a promising start.”
The research was presented at the 57th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting.