Thursday 22 June 2017

Five for your body: B12 deficiency

Many neurological symptoms, from depression to dementia, have been linked to vitamin B12. But a vitamin B12 deficiency is also relatively common in Coeliac disease.  We have listed the five main disorders relating to vitamin B12 for you.


1 – Pernicious anaemia

People who suffer from pernicious anaemia often develop a B12 deficiency. Many years can pass before symptoms are evident, but when the vitamin B12 stocks are depleted, rapid treatment with high doses is necessary. These doses are usually given by injection. However, high oral doses have been found to be just as effective, provided the daily supplementation is at least six hundred micrograms.


2 – Coeliac disease

In non-treated Coeliac disease (gluten intolerance), a vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common; in one trial this was found in 20 percent of patients. As soon as a gluten-free diet is started, recovery occurs within a few months, but vitamin B12 injections or high doses of orally administered vitamin B12 can reverse the consequences of a deficiency much faster.


3 - Dementia

In Alzheimer patients, the amount of vitamin B12 in the cerebrospinal fluid is lower than in patients with other types of dementia, whilst the levels of vitamin B12 in the blood are the same in these two groups. We also know that a lower vitamin B12 status is accompanied by the accumulation of homocysteine, shrinkage of the brain tissue and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. There are increasingly more signs that supplementation with vitamin B12 (with or without folic acid) can delay and even combat memory loss.


4 - Depression

There is a clear link between vitamin B12 and depression: at least 30 percent of severely depressed people have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Furthermore, severe depression is more common in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 and folic acid are needed for the synthesis of SAMe, that is essential to produce neurotransmitters. Vitamin B12 supplementation (potentially combined with SAMe) improves depressive symptoms.


5 – Cardiovascular diseases

A high homocysteine level is a clear and proven risk factor for the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. After folic acid, vitamin B12 is the main vitamin that helps to break down homocysteine. There are also signs that vitamin B12 deficiency is a cause of elevated homocysteine levels in elderly people above 60 years of age; in these people, vitamin B12 supplementation reduces the homocysteine in the blood. A clinical study involving 2155 elderly people with an average age of 66 years, who had already suffered from a stroke or myocardial infarction, revealed that supplementation with vitamin B6, folic acid and high-dose vitamin B12 (25 mg, 2,500 mcg and 400 micrograms respectively) provides protection against a second myocardial infarction, stoke and death. Supplementation resulted in this risk falling by 21 percent.


Also read the Vitamin B12 monograph or references and more scientific information about application, use and dose.