Research has shown that the connection between CFS, Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Syndrome & Gulf War Syndrome and vitamin B-12 may be the key to improved health for people with these illnesses. In all of these illnesses, a deficiency in vitamin B-12 is common. The most well-known CFS/FM researchers and physicians (Cheney, Teitelbaum, Lapp, Paul) use vitamin B-12 as part of their on going treatments for CFS & FM.
Although vitamin B-12 deficiency is a common symptom of the above listed illnesses, researchers do not believe it is the cause of them.
Symptoms of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency
Vitamin B-12 is crucial for the production of red blood cells, the myelin sheath around nerve cells and DNA. Vitamin B-12 is necessary for many other physical functions as well. Deficiencies can cause the following symptoms:
- Lack of energy – fatigue, anemia, shortness of breath, weakness
- Neurological changes – numbness/tingling in hands and feet, depression, confusion, balance problems, memory loss, Alzheimer’s symptoms
- Gastrointestional changes – Abdominal pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, constipation
- Immune system – Vitamin B-12 helps is necessary for normal functioning of white blood cells, helps regulate Natural-Killer T-cells, and prevents chromosome damage.
- Cardiovascular system – Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause elevated homocysteine levels and this is a known risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
IBS is a major cause of vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 deficiencies often appear so slowly as to go unnoticed, and blood tests miss early deficiency states at least 50% of the time.
Food is not a significant source of vitamin B-12. Further, absorption is hampered by low stomach acid, IBS, bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine and many other conditions. The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends that adults over 50 obtain their vitamin B-12 from supplements.
Vitamin B-12, once administered by injection, can now be obtained through oral supplementation. Oral vitamin B-12 is as effective as injection in treating B-12 deficiencies.