How to tell whether you have a B12 deficiency or fibromyalgia?

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Uses of vitamin B12

It’s also an important vitamin for the health of your central nervous system and helps in the function of your metabolism. Your body uses vitamin B12 in the formation of red blood cells. B12 is found in animal products such as milk, meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

Vegetarians and those who don’t consume B12-rich foods can get B12 from vitamin supplements. Vitamin B12 is water soluble, meaning your body doesn’t store it in reserves, so you need to take in B12 regularly. Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) is an essential nutrient, meaning it is required for normal body functioning but cannot be produced by the body. These can all be important signs of the body’s need for more vitamin B-12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency includes trouble in sleeping, diarrhea, constipation, memory and concentration. Therefore, it is necessary to obtain the B-12 our bodies need through the food we eat and/or dietary supplements. A vitamin B-12 deficiency is relatively common thought to affect approximately 15% of the general population. That percentage goes much higher among people with chronic illness.

B12 deficiency

“FightingFatigue.org”, an organization for sufferers of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, notes that fibromyalgia sufferers sometimes have low levels of B12. A lack of sufficient B12 can lead to numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, balance problems, weakness and anemia.

Some of these symptoms, particularly fatigue, are also associated with fibromyalgia. But simply taking B12 doesn’t cure the disease, so while the deficiency may be another symptom of the malady, it isn’t a cause.

The deficiency of B12 and fibromyalgia

A 1997 study of 12 patients with fibromyalgia and ME/CFS found that most had little or no detectable B-12 in their cerebrospinal fluid despite the fact that their B-12 blood tests were all normal. Conversely, they had high levels of homocysteine in their cerebrospinal fluid.

Well-known and highly respected specialists like Drs. Mark Pellegrino, Paul Cheney, Charles Lapp, Kenny DeMeirleir, Jacob Teitelbaum, and Martin Pall all recommend vitamin B-12 for their FM and ME/CFS patients. Since a B-12 deficiency has so many symptoms in common with FM and ME/CFS, researchers were naturally interested in whether or not low levels of B-12 could play a part in those illnesses.

 

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The relation between homocysteine and fibromyalgia

Homocysteine is an amino acid, too much of which can be toxic to nerves and blood vessels, and may result in increased pain sensitivity and/or heart disease. When there is not enough vitamin B-12, homocysteine levels increase. As B-12 levels rise, homocysteine levels decrease.

Sources of vitamin B12

Vitamin B-12 is produced exclusively in the digestive tracts of animals. The richest dietary sources of B-12 are beef liver and clams. Other good natural sources include meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Some breakfast cereals are fortified with B-12; however, they do not contain adequate amounts to be used as the sole dietary source.

A small vial of vitamin B12

For me personally, these findings saved my life. After almost two years of testing, constant pain, chronic fatigue, weight loss and weakness, my doctor discovered all the effort we had gone through led us to a simple answer found in a small vial of B12. For the cost of a little over $3, I began regaining a measure of my life back.

I was instructed to take an injection three times a week and eventually once a week. It is also suggested that patients take oral supplements of other vitamins, particularly B6 and folate, since excess B12 can potentially compete with other B vitamins in the cells and hinder absorption.

High homocysteine levels and B12 deficiency

The Swedish researchers found a correlation between B12 deficiency and the high homocysteine levels. 12 women who suffered from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome were surveyed by researchers at Sweden’s Goteborg University’s Institute of Clinical Neuroscience in 1997.

What causes B12 deficiency?

A deficiency of vitamin B12 is not usually caused by insufficient dietary intake but rather by a lack of intrinsic factor secretion. In order for the B-12 obtained from food to be absorbed by the body, it must attach itself to a protein called intrinsic factor, which is secreted in the stomach.

Without intrinsic factor, vitamin B-12 cannot be absorbed. Digestive disorders such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine or a parasite can block the absorption of B-12 and results in a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

 

Related: Is Vit B12 deficiency related to Fibromyalgia?

 

Diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency

Because there are no known toxic effects, even at extremely high dosages, often doctors will prescribe vitamin B-12 based on symptoms and risk factors, rather than testing for a deficiency. A test measuring methyl-malonyl coenzyme A levels in the urine gives a more accurate reading of B-12’s availability in the body. A B-12 deficiency can be difficult to diagnose because serum blood levels of B-12 may test normal. Having circulating B-12 in the blood doesn’t mean it is being utilized properly by the body’s cells.

B12 deficiency is not the root cause of fibromyalgia, nor is taking more B12 the cure for the disease. Rather, the deficiency is a condition within or because of the illness. Developing a regime of B12 intake has proven to bring positive and often life-changing results.

While it won’t cure you, it will stop further deterioration and will control your symptoms. Think about those exposed nerves again like the electrical wire without the rubber. B12 becomes the protective coating and the conduit for the body’s energy to flow as it should. I can’t guarantee what it will do for you, but for me that little bottle saved my life!

 

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References:

  • Vitamin B12 for Fibromyalgia via Live Strong
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Fibromyalgia by Dr. M G Rana,MD via Fibromyalgia Resources

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