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Posts Tagged ‘dementia and vitamin b12 deficiency’
Untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to mental illness, physical impairments, cognitive problems, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and in certain situations- even death. Many wonder- if that’s the case, then why isn’t vitamin B12 deficiency, aka pernicious anemia, detected early-on, before B12 levels plummet to such an unhealthy, debilitating level?
B12 deficiency is hard to find
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed- slips completely off the medical radar- for a variety of reasons having to do with our method for diagnosing vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to the fact that there are so many illnesses that occur at the same time that have similar symptoms.
If you already suffer from chronic depression or fibromyalgia, how would you know if you were running perilously close to developing pernicious anemia, unless your doctor screened for it routinely? (Most doctors don’t)
The problem with diagnosing the early signs of pernicious anemia is compounded by the fact that the medical community doesn’t consider it an epidemic anymore- not since scientists discovered a way of curing lethal pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 supplementation.
For many physicians, pernicious anemia awareness is practically an oxymoron.
7 Reasons for the B12 epidemic
Here are some of the main reasons that vitamin B12 deficiency continues to develop among millions of US citizens between the ages of 40 and 65:
1) The nationally accepted standard for normal levels of serum vitamin B12 is too low to prevent many of the debilitating ailments that occur when levels are moderate to low.
2) Other tests which can be used to diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency, such as the methylmalonic acid or homocysteine test, are often ignored.
3) The average medical student receives little or no training in how to detect and treat pernicious anemia.
4) People who are most at risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency- senior citizens, diabetics, autoimmune disorder patients, or recipients of gastric bypass- are rarely reminded to check their vitamin B12 levels.
5) Elderly citizens who fall frequently aren’t tested regularly for vitamin B12 deficiency, even though gait disturbances, dizziness, and balance problems are typical signs of pernicious anemia.
6) Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often mask underlying vitamin B12 deficiency; nevertheless, doctors rarely conduct B12 screenings for patients with dementia, despite scientific evidence proving its beneficial properties for people suffering from memory loss, confusion, and paranoia.
What do you think?
Should pernicious anemia be recognized as an epidemic worthy of more research?
Should we raise our standards for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency, even when levels are moderate to low?
Does your doctor give enough attention to symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, or “pins and needles?”
Everybody knows that Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that occurs among the elderly, but did you know that severe memory loss from vitamin B12 deficiency can happen, regardless of your age? Find out how vitamin B12 deficiency affects brain health.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a brain disorder that causes you to lose thinking skills like memory, reasoning, language, and social awareness. Dementia is a progressive condition- the symptoms of dementia only worsen with time.
Degenerative dementia is permanent, meaning that the brain damage that caused dementia is irreversible. Still, some kinds of dementia can be reversed if caught in time; such is the case with a brain tumor.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most notable types of degenerative dementia.
Short-term memory loss: While dementia patients don’t usually have difficulty remembering things from their childhood with crystal-clear vision, they are likely to forget messages, conversations, or doctor’s appointments from the previous day…or hour.
Moodiness: Alzheimer’s disease patients may shift through moods in the blink of an eye- one minute content, the next minute expressing deep anger, and rage. Paranoia and depression are common traits of elderly individuals suffering from dementia. Often, people with dementia lose interest in things like hobbies and social clubs that they used to enjoy. In some cases, they may become antisocial and exhibit bad behavior in public.
Difficulty communicating: People with dementia tend to have circular conversations, immediately forgetting what they spoke of a moment ago, and returning to the same topic. They also have trouble recalling everyday words, as their vocabulary skills have decreased significantly.
Decreased perception skills: Dementia patients have great difficulty understanding new or foreign concepts.
Inability to multi-task
Cognitive decline: Senior citizens with dementia have trouble thinking abstractly, figuring amounts, and using logic.
As there are many different types of dementia, there are also various causes and correlations, as well.
Stroke (Vascular dementia)
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Progressive supranuclear palsy
Vitamin B12 deficiency (Pernicious anemia)
Certain cholesterol-lowering medications
How do doctors diagnose dementia?
If your doctor suspects dementia, he will have to review the patient’s medical history and order various physical exams before he diagnoses dementia. Additionally, any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to dementia symptoms will be reviewed, such as low levels of vitamin B12 or history of depression.
The most common tests used to diagnose dementia are:
Neurological exam (mental status examination)
MRI brain scan
Vitamin B12 blood test
Ammonia blood test
Blood chemistry test
Toxicology screening for alcohol
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis
Treatments for dementia
Depending on the cause of dementia, your physician might prescribe one of the following treatments for dementia:
Vitamin B12 supplements, if vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms are the cause of dementia.
Acetyl cholinesterase inhibitor, for dementia with Lewy bodies
Hair loss got you down, as in down the drain? Women’s hair loss, male pattern baldness- it all amounts to the same impairment. But don’t throw in the bath towel just yet; here are a few treatments for hair loss that include changes you can make to your diet right now to put the breaks on that receding hairline and give you shinier, healthier hair.
Wholesome foods are just that- they benefit the body as a whole; what’s good for your digestive system is also good for your hair, skin and nails. Eating a variety of lean proteins, dairy, healthy oils, legumes and fruits and vegetables every day will ensure that your body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly inside and out.
Remember, fat is not a four-letter word. “Good” fats are anti-inflammatories which keep your hair shiny and lush. Avoid saturated hydrogenated oils like margarine and opt instead for unsaturated canola. Elect to make one day of the week as “fish dinner” night, as well as supplementing with a daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids for lustrous locks.
Beware of iron deficiency. Particularly, women approaching middle age are at risk of developing anemia, a symptom of which is hair loss. When taking an iron supplement or having an iron-rich meal such as fortified cereal or spinach quiche, remember to include a dose of vitamin c for maximum impact.
Many women who experience premature balding suffer vitamin b12 deficiency, a condition which often leads to pernicious anemia. Other symptoms include chronic fatigue, short-term memory loss, tingling in the extremities and nausea. Vitamin b12 deficiency is usually caused by a diet low in eggs, meat and poultry; standard vegan diets do not maintain a sufficient amount of vitamin b12 and are often a factor in vitamin b12 deficiency. A blood test by a physician is necessary to determine a deficiency in vitamin b12, in which a dose of 1000 mcg. of b12 is generally prescribed.
Another b vitamin, biotin, is also essential for a healthy head of hair; not only is biotin the key ingredient for development of hair follicles, it actually regulates all hair, nail and skin functioning. While biotin is found in some food products like egg yolks a 3 mg. supplement is required to get an adequate supply.
Choose silicone-enhanced shampoos and conditioners which coat the follicles with a silky surface for less tugging and strand pulling while combing.
Jonathan E. Prousky, ND, MSC has recently used vitamin B12 to treat a wide range of mental illnesses and neurological conditions in patients who are not deficient in vitamin B12. He notes that there are many people with blood plasma B12 levels that are on the low end of normal according to accepted medical practice. Even so, these people are still prone to symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency notwithstanding.
Dr. Prousky has successfully used vitamin B12 injections to treat all of the following neurological symptoms: anxiety, delusions, depression, hallucinations, fatigue, mood swings, memory problems, muscle weakness, neuropathy and psychoses. Since vitamin B12 is safe and effective, more doctors should make use of it to treat the mental and physical impairments as mentioned.
There are many studies that support this hypothesis.
In one study, twenty-nine people complaining of fatigue participated in a study. All of them had seemingly “normal” blood plasma B12 levels. Still, those who received the vitamin B12 injections reported increased happiness and feeling of well-being.
A second study involved 16 geriatric patients, between 60 and 85 years of age. All of these patients had dementia, but normal liver function. Following three months of treatment with vitamin B12, all of the patients had a marked improvement in their condition.
Yet another study evaluated the effects of vitamin B12 on patients with personality problems, as diagnosed using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The participants had the following diagnoses: depression (two patients), paranoid schizophrenia (one patient), insomnia (one patient), recurrent duodenal ulcer (one patient), cocaine addiction (one patient), angioneurotic edema (one patient) and others.
All of these patients were at least 16 years old and were not taking medication for their ailments. Amazingly, even though their serum B12 levels had been within the range of normal, they all benefitted from high doses of vitamin B12 supplementation.
To substantiate these studies, Dr. Prousky has also utilized vitamin B12 to treat his own patients and has concluded that the findings of these studies are true and accurate. His theory is that high doses of vitamin B12 can alter the chemical reactions in the brain and nervous system.
In conclusion, patients reporting mental and neurological disorders can benefit greatly from high doses of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency goes largely undetected, by the time dementia has set in due to the Vitamin B12 deficiency the condition has been prolonged and present for some time.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a condition that is usually secondary to an underlying condition. It is the result of many diseases. Dementia makes a person act in a disorientated manner, looks similar to amnesia with the person unable to remember the simplest of things, like their address or how to put pants on. It is a very scary condition to witness. Dementia can be the result of some very complex diseases that effect the body and the treatments for the diseases, sometimes it is reversible and winds up as a short episode, sometimes it is not and it becomes a permanent condition. The connection to Vitamin B12 deficiency and dementia is still not very well understood, but studies indicate there is a strong relationship between Vitamin B12 deficiency and dementia.
Vitamin B12 deficiency when associated with dementia is one of the most preventable forms of dementia, catching the condition in time is a key before permanent damage takes hold.
Vitamin B12 is key to keeping the nervous system healthy and keeping the brain functioning at optimum performance. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in a host of issues, many of which are neurologically based. There is a link between Vitamin B12 deficiency and depression, memory loss, personality changes, increase in irritability, dementia and psychosis. These are pretty serious conditions and goes far beyond what the medical community thought were the results of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. For years the medical community thought that the only problems that would manifest itself from a Vitamin B12 deficiency were anemia and fatigue.
The theory is that the components of Vitamin B12 feed the nervous system, without the proper amount present the dendrites that are used to send messages to the brain from the body begin to die and lose functions; production of these dendrites is reduced because the nourishment in the Vitamin B12 is missing when there is a deficiency. The results can be catastrophic. The brain starts to change how it does business; it conserves its energy for the survival things like breathing and keeping the heart beating. So other day to day brain functions start to lose some control, like memory functions, recognition and speech, but it happens in increments so that it is barely noticed. Over time more and more function is lost, resulting in dementia.
Neurological illness that is brought on by Vitamin B12 deficiency is completely preventable, but not completely curable once it has occurred.
How to Prevent Dementia Brought On By Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The simplest path to prevention is a diet rich in Vitamin B12 foods, if dietary restrictions make it difficult to consume the Vitamin B12 foods than supplements may be the only way to be sure that there is enough Vitamin B12 in the diet.
Periodic screenings after the age of sixty is also a good idea and will go a long way in prevention.