7 Health Dangers of B-12 Deficiency

Dr. Group
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

A person walking through a sunny field. B-12 deficiency has also been linked to other neurodegenerative disorders.

There are a great number of people out there who rely on vitamin B12 supplements as a natural way to help ease stress and boost their energy levels. While the vitamin’s ability to enhance mental performance is relatively well known, research suggests that the effects of B12 deficiency may be more serious than a simple lack of energy. Let’s take a look at seven of them.

1. Cognitive Impairment

In the elderly, B12 deficiency has been linked to cognitive impairment and dementia. This deficiency has also been linked to other neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.[1]

2. Psychosis

Depressed mood, hallucinations, seizures, and hypertension have been found in subjects who tested positive only for low B12 levels. Administration of B12 has been found to result in quick recovery (less than a week).[2] In one case, a middle-aged man diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and low B12 levels found relief through the use of methylcobalamin (B12).[3]

3. Melancholic Depression

Individuals suffering from melancholic depression (caused by physical rather than psychological factors) have consistently displayed an inverse relationship between B12 levels and depression.[4]

4. Stroke

Increases in homocysteine levels resulting from adequate B12 have linked a B12 deficiency to stroke. One reported case involved an older male suffering from recurring strokes along with a reduction in blood cells from an intestinal inability to absorb B12. This resulted in abnormally high levels of homocysteine in the blood — a likely contributor to stroke and blood clots.[5]

5. Alzheimer’s Disease

While studies continue into the mechanism’s causing Alzheimer’s disease, a recently published study demonstrated a treatment of folic acid, B6, and B12 as a significant improvement in the reduction of cerebral atrophy.[6]

6. Cardiovascular Disease

Without B12 the body cannot convert homocysteine. This leads to a build-up of homocysteine levels which have been associated with atherosclerosis and increased risk of cardiovascular mortality.[7]

7. Anemia

This disorder hinders the body from producing red blood cells and can develop into fever. Researchers have noted that administration of a B12 intramuscular injection alleviates indications of anemia.[8]

Make Sure You Get Your B12

Vitamin B12’s overall value to the human body cannot be stressed enough. In addition to reduced brain mass, long term B12 deficiency has been shown to readily contribute to impaired DNA synthesis and replication inside the body, as well as nerve damage, memory loss, and other cognitive issues. In some cases, it has also been associated with mania and various forms of temporary psychosis. These complications can be avoided by simply keeping your vitamin intake regular and in check.

Do you take a B12 supplement or do you rely on food? Please leave a comment below and tell us!

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References (8)
  1. McCaddon A. Vitamin B12 in neurology and ageing; clinical and genetic aspects. Biochimie. 2013 May;95(5):1066-76. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2012.11.017.
  2. Dogan M, Ariyuca S, Peker E, Akbayram S, Dogan Z, Ozdemir O, Cesur Y. Psychotic disorder, hypertension and seizures associated with vitamin B12 deficiency: a case report. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2012 Apr;31(4):410-3. doi: 10.1177/0960327111422404. Epub 2011 Oct 25.
  3. Sharma V, Biswas D. Cobalamin deficiency presenting as obsessive compulsive disorder: case report. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2012 Sep-Oct;34(5):578.e7-8. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2011.11.006. Epub 2012 Jan 9.
  4. Seppälä J, Koponen H, Kautiainen H, Eriksson JG, Kampman O, Leiviskä J, Männistö S, Mäntyselkä P, Oksa H, Ovaskainen Y, Viikki M, Vanhala M, Seppälä J. Association between vitamin b12 levels and melancholic depressive symptoms: a Finnish population-based study. BMC Psychiatry. 2013 May 24;13(1):145.
  5. Bougteba A, Basir A, Kissani N. Recurrent ischemic stroke revealing Biermer's disease. Rev Neurol (Paris). 2009 Dec;165(12):1099-102. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2009.01.051.
  6. Douaud G, Refsum H, de Jager CA, Jacoby R, Nichols TE, Smith SM, Smith AD. Preventing Alzheimer's disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 4;110(23):9523-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1301816110. Epub 2013 May 20.
  7. Refsum H, Nurk E, Smith AD, Ueland PM, Gjesdal CG, Bjelland I, Tverdal A, Tell GS, Nygård O, Vollset SE. The Hordaland Homocysteine Study: a community-based study of homocysteine, its determinants, and associations with disease. J Nutr. 2006 Jun;136(6 Suppl):1731S-1740S.
  8. Manuel K, Padhi S, G'boy Varghese R. Pyrexia in a patient with megaloblastic anemia: a case report and literature review. Iran J Med Sci. 2013 Jun;38(2 Suppl):198-201.

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