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What does Vitamin B12 deficiency have to do with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome? Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system, and many of the symptoms of pernicious anemia from B12 deficiency result in poor muscle control, including muscular spasms, nervous eye twitching, decreased motor skills, and difficulty walking.
Vitamin B12 benefits the nerves
Cyanocobalamin or Vitamin B12 benefits your body in many ways- it lends itself in red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, healthy cognitive functioning, energy production, and homocysteine control. Also, vitamin B12 helps your body produce myelin, a fatty substance that protects your nervous system’s sensitive nerve fibers in the brain and the spinal cord.
Without sufficient levels of vitamin B12, you may develop severe nerve damage- peripheral neuropathy.
Some symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency- peripheral neuropathy include:
painful tingling and numbness in the hands, feet, and ankles
burning mouth syndrome
decreased motor control
frequent clumsiness and tripping
difficulty balancing on one foot
Vitamin B12 deficiency and other movement disorders
It should come as no surprise, then, that other movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease (PD) have close ties with vitamin B12 deficiency. Involuntary muscular movements may or may not be caused by low B12 levels, but
In some movement disorder cases, scientists have noted improvement with vitamin B12 supplements.
Even when pernicious anemia is not a cause of muscle spasms or walking difficulties, researchers sometimes notice a comorbid relationship with vitamin B12 deficiency.
Another occurrence in diagnosing movement disorders is a tendency for doctors to misdiagnose vitamin B12 deficiency as a more serious illness, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s disease.
In a scientific report on Parkinson’s and neuropathy, researchers confirmed a high rate of vitamin B12 deficiency in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and recommended close monitoring of B12 levels and routine administration of vitamin B12 supplements. Results were published in Neurology.
Chorea- focal dystonia
Chorea is an abnormal involuntary movement disorder, part of a group of neurological disorders called dyskinesia. Chorea is a symptom of Huntington’s disease, but it can also occur in other illnesses, including focal dystonia. In one of many studies on vitamin B12 deficiency and focal dystonia, scientists saw favorable results with cyanocobalamin supplementation, attributing it to decreased homocysteine levels.
Restless leg syndrome
The most common symptom of restless leg syndrome is the urgent need to shake your leg to relieve “creeping, crawling” sensations, usually between the kneecap and ankle.Restless leg syndrome occurs often with peripheral neuropathy, a symptom of pernicious anemia. Other possible causes are kidney disease, diabetes neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, and drug interactions.
Stiff person syndrome
Stiff-person syndrome (SPS) is a rare neurological disorder that occurs with autoimmune disease. Symptoms of SPS are muscle spasms in the limbs and trunk, hypersensitivity to touch, noise, and stress, and stiff posture. People who often suffer stiff person syndrome are patients of pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency), diabetes, thyroiditis, and vitiligo.
Ataxia is an inability to control muscular movements used in walking, jumping, balancing, or holding objects. Chronic ataxia is one of the earliest symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, along with muscular weakness, poor reflexes, spasticity, vision impairment, dementia, and psychosis, according to a Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center study of 153 patients suffering from cobalamin deficiency neuropathy.
Eye movement disorders
Nystagmus, uncontrollable movements of the eyeballs, might be caused by low vitamin B12 levels, according to a study focusing on downbeat nystagmus and vitamin B12 deficiency. Another phenomenon common with B12 deficiency is myokymia- eyelid twitching.
Read more about B12 deficiency and your nervous system:
Is there any connection between lupus and vitamin B12 deficiency? That’s a question asked often both by people with low B12 and diagnosed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Both autoimmune diseases share similar symptoms, and it’s important to know how to tell the difference.
Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease that can cause damage to your muscles, bones, organs, and skin tissue. Like other autoimmune disorders, lupus causes your body’s immune system to attack healthy cells tissue, causing swelling, inflammation, and pain. Damage to your system may include kidney damage, heart attack, lung damage, joint pain, and blood diseases such as anemia (more on this later).
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the US. Even if you eat plenty of sources rich in vitamin B12 (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk), your B12 levels may be at risk if you have had bariatric surgery, take antacid medicine for acid reflux, are among the elderly, have a gastrointestinal autoimmune disease like Crohn’s or celiac disease, or if you are a diabetic taking metformin.
Many symptoms of lupus mimic those of vitamin B12 deficiency, making it difficult to determine low B12 levels without taking a vitamin B12 blood test.
Cognitive functioning and mood disorders. Anxiety, depression, headaches, and short-term memory loss are symptoms common to both lupus patients and vitamin B12 deficiency sufferers.
Chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue shares a comorbid relationship with lupus and B12 deficiency.
Nerve damage. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes neurological damage such as aching joints and arthritis-like muscular pain. Lupus causes swollen joints, arthritis, and inflamed joints.
Shortness of breath is a symptom of low B12 and lupus.
Hair loss. B12 deficiency may cause premature hair loss and greying. Hair loss is also a symptom common to lupus patients.
Mouth ulcers are typical for vitamin B12 patients and lupus sufferers.
Skin rashes are a side effect of chronic B12 deficiency. Likewise, lupus patients suffer skin rashes across the cheeks and nose (malar rash).
Anemia. One of the most highly correlated symptoms shared by vitamin B12 deficiency patients and lupus patients alike is the susceptibility to anemia. Left untreated, pernicious anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to severe nerve damage, red blood cell depletion, and cognitive impairments. More than half of all lupus patients suffer from blood disorders like anemia.
Heart disease. Lupus and pernicious anemia patients alike are at high risk for contracting heart disease.
Bone loss (osteoporosis) is a risk factor for lupus patients and individuals with vitamin B12 deficiency.
Read more about B12 deficiency and autoimmune diseases:
Numerous studies linking elevated homocysteine with mental illness prove that symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency caused by low B12 (cyanocobalamin) in the blood are often mistaken for mental health issues, such as depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.
What is homocysteine?
Homocysteine is an amino acid that your body makes when you eat meat products. Having too much homocysteine in your blood supply causes damage to your arteries and increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
What is B12, and how does it regulate homocysteine?
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that occurs exclusively in animal-based foods such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk products. Some of the riches sources of vitamin B12 are organ meats (liver, heart), oysters, and clams.
Together with vitamin B6 and folic acid, vitamin B12 helps break down homocysteine and keep them at a safe, healthy level. Without sufficient stores of these essential vitamins, homocysteine levels would escalate, leaving you at a high risk for developing diseases associated with elevated homocysteine levels, such as neurological impairments and cardiovascular disease.
Elevated homocysteine plasma levels are one of many symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
What illnesses are associated with elevated plasma homocysteine levels?
Scientists believe that homocysteine is behind a wide variety of conditions and illnesses, from visual problems and eating disorders, to heart disease and schizophrenia.
Currently, most scientists agree that elevated homocysteine levels share a significant correlation with the following diseases:
Atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries)
Increased risk of heart attacks
Increased risk of strokes
How many studies link elevated plasma homocysteine levels with mental illness?
A growing number of scientific studies prove a significant correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency, homocysteine levels, and mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, depression, chronic fatigue, dementia, and even eating disorders in women.
1- In Beersheva, Israel, a study focused on treating patients of Alzheimer’s and cerebrovascular disease with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 supplements. In this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, scientists of Ben Gurion University noted dramatic cognitive benefits in patients who received the vitamin supplements.
2- In Boston, Massachusetts, a Tufts University study linking low vitamin B12 and cognitive impairment in the elderly noted a direct correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and anemia, macrocytosis, and cognitive problems such as dementia.
4- Elevated plasma levels of homocysteine in females with eating disorders were also the focus of this German study that linked excessive homocysteine with depression, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
5- A Swedish study on older patients with mental illness concluded that age and plasma homocysteine levels more accurately predict cognitive functioning skills than brain imaging, as measured by the Mini mental state examination (MMSE).
Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency and mental illness:
For years, vitamin B12 has been the staple energy vitamin for stars such as Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Prince. Now, B12 vitamins are part of Glee star Lea Michele’s regimen against vitamin B12 deficiency. Find out why celebrities such as Lea Michele rely on B12 supplements for added stamina, strength, and mental focus.
The Glee star’s secret to weight loss
How does Lea Michele, who plays the bossy, competitive, (and sometimes infuriating) Rachel on Glee keep her figure? Recently, she confessed to following a strictly macrobiotic vegan diet, composed of mostly vegetables, grains, and beans. By cutting out meat, chicken, and dairy products from her diet, Lea has managed to lose ten pounds since she first started filming on the set.
Lea admits to also eating a few servings of fish per week, in order to avoid getting vitamin B12 deficiency. Since Vitamin B12 occurs only in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk, supplementing with extra vitamin B12 is crucial for avoiding low B12 blood levels. How does she justify introducing a non-vegan source into her vegan diet? Apparently, macrobiotic veganism makes special allowances for seafood. Lea Michele understands that a diet low in vitamin B12 is a diet that leads to B12 deficiency symptoms.
People who deplete their stores of vitamin B12 encounter symptoms such as extreme fatigue, muscular weakness, depression, diminished coordination, memory loss, and frequent numbness or tingling sensations (pins and needles) in their hands, arms, legs, and feet. Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency may escalate into severe memory loss, neurological damage, osteoporosis, and increased risk for heart attack, and stroke.
Vitamin B12 supplements essential as part of your weight loss program. What are the benefits of vitamin B12 for weight loss? Vitamin B12 boosts metabolism, in addition to providing energy and stabilizing your mood.
Vitamin B12 contains cobalt; together, the minerals that make up vitamin B12, cobalamin, are essential coenzymes that increase metabolism by converting food to energy in the body. In diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, researchers often take into account changes in the metabolic rate, in addition to measuring levels of B12 and homocysteine.
“Elevated methylmalonic acid levels might be a more reliable indicator of vitamin B12 status because they indicate a metabolic change that is highly specific to vitamin B12 deficiency.” - National Institutes of Health
People with high metabolisms tend to lose weight more quickly and efficiently than others who have slower metabolic rates. In order to burn fat at an optimal rate, it is essential to maintain healthy stores of vitamin B12.
B12 boosts energy
If you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, then you experience symptoms such as tiredness, muscular weakness, decreased motor skills, and lack of energy.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer symptoms of low B12 don’t even know it. Often, comorbid conditions such as clinical depression, anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or hypothyroidism (low thyroid) mask the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. So, despite taking treatments such as antidepressants, insulin, thyroid medications, or pain relievers, they continue to feel sad and tired all the time, battling with constant “brain fog” without knowing why.
Increasing your energy level provides mental focus, determination, and emotional wellness, in addition to improving your quality of life. These things together assure weight loss success by enabling you to stick to a workout routine, increase your sports performance and stamina, challenge yourself in the gym, and stay on track.
B12 boosts mood
Common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are depression, chronic fatigue, anxiety, paranoia, and unusually aggressive behavior. When you are in a bad mood, you are more likely to make poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drug use, oversleeping, eating fattening, salty or sugary foods, and sedentary activities like television watching and playing video games.
Scientists have proven a high correlation between depression and weight gain. If you feel sluggish, depressed, or more fatigued than usual, then you are statistically less likely to follow an exercise regimen or commit yourself to a new weight loss diet.
Only by taking vitamin B12 supplements can you begin to recover from symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and achieve an overall sense of well-being.
If you’re having trouble finding balance, B12 deficiency might be the culprit. Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency- dizziness and nerve damage like ataxia (unsteady gait, difficulty keeping balance), and numbness or tingling in hands and feet require B12 supplements.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in all meat, cheese, and egg products, but if you are one of millions of people who cannot absorb B12 efficiently, then you will start feeling symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. Some common emotional and cognitive signs of B12 deficiency are:
Chronic fatigue, sleepiness
Nerve damage caused by B12 deficiency
In addition to psychiatric symptoms, vitamin B12 deficiency causes severe damage to your nerves, notably subacute combined degeneration (SCD)of the spinal cord- a severe neurological disorder caused by B-12 deficiency. SCD causes damage in your spinal cord, brain, and peripheral nerves, beginning with the myelin sheathe.
1- The myelin sheathe- your nervous system’s “ozone layer”
The myelin sheath is a protective covering that surrounds many of your nerves, providing a shield from potential danger. The myelin sheathe also accelerates communication between your nerves and your many bodily sensors (hands, feet, tongue, nose, eyes). Vitamin B12 aids your body in maintaining this essential protective mechanism, and low levels of B12 often result in a breakdown of the myelin sheathe.
2- Communication breakdown
The nerves of your spinal cord rely on a steady inflow of information from your nerve sensors throughout your body. Messages from the nerves in your legs, for example, flow along the spinal cord and to the brain, thus controlling movements like running, walking, skipping, and tapping your feet. Nerve damage causes these signals to become misinterpreted, resulting in poor coordination, or gait ataxia.
3- Gait ataxia- taking the spring out of your step
A typical sign of abnormal neurological behavior resulting from B12 deficiency is gait ataxia, which is difficulty walking. Gait ataxia is also one of the symptoms of perniciousanemia, red blood cell disease associated with prolonged vitamin B-12 deficiency. Symptoms of gait ataxia are:
Unsteady gait, difficulty walking without stumbling
Difficulty staying balanced on one leg
Trembling awkward movements, clumsiness
Muscular weakness in the legs and arms
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Vision problems, blurriness
4- Paresthesias- “pins and needles” and numbness sensations
An early sign of nerve damage related to vitamin B12 cobalamin deficiency is paresthesias, resulting in numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Paresthesias is a kind of peripheral neuropathy that affects the peripheral nerves that run along your spinal cord and to your extremities, thus causing that pins and needles sensation that you often feel in your hands and feet.
Do you have vitamin B12 deficiency? Go ask a hematologist.
The only way to determine if you are indeed suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency is by getting a blood test. If a physician diagnoses you with dangerously low levels of B12, then he may recommend B12 injections, which will require a prescription.
Vitamin B12 benefits your nervous system and many other biochemical reactions; Find out how Vitamin B12 supplements can help you live a healthier lifestyle.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin) is an essential nutrient that occurs naturally in protein food sources, such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. The B12 vitamin is one of the B-complex vitamins. Other B vitamins are vitamin B9 (folate) and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Vitamin B12 is important for many bodily functions. B12 helps your body produce red blood cells, regulates your nervous system, boosts your immunity, and protects cognitive functioning. Some other benefits of vitamin B12 include lowering your risk for heart attack and stroke by regulating homocysteine levels.
The best way to get enough vitamin B12 in your diet is by eating plenty of lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Foods that have the highest levels of vitamin B12 are clams, oysters, beef liver, and halibut.
However, eating B12-rich foods does not guarantee against vitamin B12 deficiency. Some people are unable to digest B12 naturally from foods, and must take B12 supplements in order to avoid symptoms of malnourishment, such as fatigue, depression, irritability, numbness in hands and feet, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.
Most physicians prescribe vitamin B12 shots,sublingual B12, or b12 vitamins after diagnosing B12 deficiency.
Celiac disease and vitamin B12 deficiency are interrelated, but many celiacs are unaware of the high risk for developing vitamin B-12 deficiency. Like celiac disease, vitamin B12 deficiency is sometimes an autoimmune disorder brought on by pernicious anemia.
What is vitamin B-12?
Vitamin B12, “cyanocobalamin,” is an essential nutrient that occurs in protein foods, such as beef and chicken liver, oysters, shrimp, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, and is stored in the liver.
B12 is crucial for healthy red blood cell production, for protecting your nervous system, for supporting cardiovascular health, and for sustaining normal cognitive functioning, such as memory, thinking skills, and logic.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency?
If you are unable to sustain sufficient amounts of B12 in your liver, then you may start to feel tired, depressed, and disoriented. You might notice a numbing or tingling sensation in your hands and feet, described as “pins and needles.”
You might also notice that you have a hard time remembering important dates or meetings, or finding the right word while talking to somebody or sending an e-mail.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac patients and others with gluten intolerance must avoid all products containing gluten- baked goods, packaged snacks, and a long list of food additives- in order to avoid symptoms.
Celiac disease is one of many autoimmune diseases that occur with vitamin B12 deficiency. With celiac, patients who eat any foods containing gluten experience painful symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and achiness. That is because their immune system identifies gluten as a threat, and begins to attack traces of gluten in the digestive system, causing severe damage to the intestinal tract.
Why are celiac disease patients at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency?
Scientists don’t claim that celiac disease is an outright cause of low vitamin B12, but they have noted a strong correlation- enough to warrant extensive research and recommendations.
In order to digest nutrients such as vitamin B12 properly, you need to have a healthy digestive system. People with autoimmune diseases that cause gastrointestinal damage, such as Hashimoto’sdisease, Crohn’sdisease, and celiac diseases, are unable to absorb nutrients from dietary sources because of damage to their stomach linings, small intestines or colon.
For them, malabsorption often leads to anemia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, and peripheral neuropathy in the hands and feet (thus the tingling and numbness).
Celiac disease patients, and others who can’t absorb vitamin B12
Besides celiac disease, other factors can make it difficult for your body to absorb enough vitamin B12:
Inability to produce intrinsic factor, a necessary protein for B12 vitamin absorption
Gastrointestinal surgeries (gastric bypass, IBD surgery) that involve removing your ileum, a part of your small intestine that helps you digest vitamin B12 from food
Long-time usage of heartburn medications
Following a vegan diet
Does following a gluten-free diet cure vitamin B12 deficiency?
Not entirely; according to research by the University of Edinburgh, people who suffer celiac disease, but do not receive treatment, have a 41% chance of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
In celiac patients who started following a gluten-free diet, most of their symptoms disappeared. However, a significant amount of celiacs continued to suffer neuropathic symptoms such as tingling and numbness, and those side effects did not disappear until they brought their vitamin B12 levels back to normal with routine vitamin B12 supplements.
Read more about preventing vitamin B12 deficiency:
Folic acid(vitamin B-6), the synthetic version offolate, has been instrumental in reducing the number of neural tube birth defects, ever since the US government mandated that all breads and other grain products be infused with this essential B vitamin; pregnant women are strongly advised to include folate supplementation in their diet.
But folic acid alone is ineffective in nourishing the nervous system; for that, it requires help from vitamin B12.
Folic acid + B12 = healthy nerves
A study found that both folic acid and vitamin B12, taken together, produced the most beneficial results in regards to nerve function.
A Tufts University study examined 1,459 individuals over the age of 60.
25% had vitamin B12 deficiency, and likewise scored poorly on mental acuity testing.
Of the participants who has B12 deficiency, the ones who also had folic acid deficiency turned out the worst scores- 5 times below the average for healthy individuals of that age.
The elderly are particularly at risk because of their inability to utilize B12 vitamins naturally.
It’s been called the “morning after” shot. It’s used by celebrities to recuperate after an evening of partying and paparazzi. Politicians rely on this vitamin to keep them in their prime. What is this wonder drug, you ask? No, it’s not vitamin C.
Justin Timberlake and Madonna both say they get their stamina from regular doses of vitamin B12 every day, declaring that they couldn’t get through their chaotic schedule without it. Says an insider close to Justin, “the day Madge gave him his first shot was one of the best of his life.”
Party girl Lindsay Lohan calls up her doctor for a blast of B12 whenever she feels fatigued and wiped out from jet lag.
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher confesses that she depended on regular vitamin B12 injections in order to keep up with the daily demands of government.
Hugh Jackman gets his hit of B12 twice a week; he says it keeps him on his toes while rehearsing his dance numbers for “The Boy from Oz.” Even Prince makes a point of getting his B12 before every concert.
Many Hollywood doctors claim they get dozens of requests each week for a quick B12 fix. Excessive drinking causes you to lose a lot of B12, they explain. Celebrities go to a lot of all-nighters, and that usually translates into a lot of liquor. In fact, alcoholism is a known cause of severe B12 deficiency.
Check out this video of Justin Bieber telling Chelsea Lately about his regular shots in the “butt.” Oh, if only he knew…