Multiple Sclerosis and Vitamin B12 Deficiency

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The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency often mimic those of multiple sclerosis.  These symptoms include neurological impairments that can strike a person at any age.  Unfortunately, doctors often don’t test for a vitamin B12 deficiency until after a person suffers for years.  Sometimes, the neurological damage sustained due to the vitamin B12 deficiency is irreversible, and a person may become paralyzed.

Here is a partial list of symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, along with actual examples of victims:

  1. Vision loss:  A 28-year-old woman with vision loss was discovered to have B12 plasma levels that were one-third of normal.  Her vision returned after she received injections of vitamin B12.
  2. Dizziness:  A woman who underwent a gastrectomy suffered from poor coordination, also turned out to have a severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
  3. Muscle weakness:  When one woman reached middle age, there was a sudden onset of a mild tremor and weakness in her arm.  This was reversed with vitamin B12 supplementation.

In the above-mentioned cases, blood tests were able to detect the vitamin B12 deficiency.  However, some people have normal blood levels of B12, but are unable to metabolize the B12.  This is known as cobalamin G, which is hereditary.

A woman with cobalamin G nearly lost her life because of a misdiagnosis.  When she was in her early 20’s, she began to experience tingling in her extremities and started to lose control of her hands and feet.  Her serum B12 levels were normal, so the doctors diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis, a disease which causes paralysis.

Finally, when she was 27-years-old, she became very anemic.  She subsequently underwent a bone marrow test.  The results of this test were indicative of a B12 deficiency, and she was finally given B12 injections, along with medication to regulate her homocysteine levels.  The degree of her weakness in her legs were reduced, but continued to bother her.

Had the doctors diagnosed her properly with cobalamin G at an earlier point in time, her difficulty walking could have been prevented.

Unfortunately, there are doctors who still confuse symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency with multiple sclerosis.  Awareness of this problem can prevent future suffering.