There are a lot of different medications that work by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach. Some are called Histamine 2 (H2) blockers and are now available over the counter. This class includes popular brands like Zantac (Ranitidine), or Axid (Nizatidine). These products work by blocking the H2 receptor-site and consequently reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces. There is also a more powerful class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors. One of these products, Prilosec OTC is available over the counter while the rest are available by prescription only. These products include Nexium (Esomeprazole), Prilosec (Omeprazole), Aciphex (Rabeprazole), Prevacid (Lansoprazole), Protonix (Pantoprazole). Proton pump inhibitors work exactly as the name implies,they inhibit the proton pumps in the stomach from producing acid. These products are very effective at lower the level of acid in the stomach and reducing symptoms of GERD, reflux, and stomach ulcers. These are relatively safe products that don’t require any additional blood monitoring and have very few side effects in most people.
But one of the long term effects of reducing the level of acid in your stomach on a continual basis is your body isn’t able to absorb the amount of vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin) that is necessary, and your body’s supplies of this essential nutrient becomes depleted. Since B-12 deficiency is already estimated to be anywhere from 5-20% of the population the addition of a medication that actually reduces your body to absorb Vitamin B-12 can have significant effects on a population already at risk. Other things that put patients at risk of Vitamin B-12 deficiency is elderly people, alcoholics, patients with dementia, patients that have had a small bowel resection as well as AIDS patients.
One marker that is often used by doctors to determine vitamin B-12 deficiency is to the your blood homocysteine levels.
If you are taking one of these over the counter or prescriptions products, it is important that you be aware of this potential nutritional side effect that could impact your health. One way to avoid the potential deficiency is to be sure to take a supplement.