My favorite articles talk about 500-550 being the B12 levels at which loss of memory, dementia, and lethargy can be caused. The articles talk about B12 deficient people with gastritis and celiac disease, and each suggests cobalamin, B12 therapy. The doctors concluded that levels of serum vitamin B-12 concentrations currently considered normal in the United States may be too low and should be reassessed.
MOLNYCKE, SWEDEN. Swedish researchers have discovered that many older people are deficient in vitamin B-12. Their study involved 368 men and women aged 75 years or older. Analysis of blood serum showed that 11 per cent of the participants were deficient in cobalamin (vitamin B-12). The researchers point out that a vitamin B-12 deficiency has been linked to neuropsychiatric disorders such as memory loss and dementia. The researchers discovered several cases of gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach) and two cases of celiac disease among patients with low serum values of cobalamin. They conclude that routine screening for a vitamin B-12 deficiency is justified in the case of older people.
In a separate letter to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society doctors from the Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore report on a case of vitamin B-12 deficiency. The patient, an 85-year-old man, had developed progressive memory loss and lethargy over a two-year period. Although his serum level of vitamin B-12 was within the currently accepted range, the doctors decided to proceed with vitamin B-12 therapy. The patient received an intramuscular injection of 1000 micrograms of vitamin B-12 for three consecutive days, then 1000 micrograms weekly for a month, and then one injection every month. By the fifth injection his mental status has vastly improved and his lethargy had completely vanished.
The doctors conclude that the levels of serum vitamin B-12 concentrations currently considered normal in the United States may be too low and should be reassessed. The lower limit of 200 pg/mL is based on the level which causes abnormalities in the blood (pernicious anemia). In contrast the lower limit in Japan and some European countries is 500-550 pg/mL and is based on the level which causes mental manifestations such as dementia and memory loss. The doctors suggest that a trial of vitamin B-12 therapy is warranted in patients with borderline cobalamin serum levels as it is effective and inexpensive.
Eggersten, Robert, et al. Prevalence and diagnosis of cobalamin deficiency in older people, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society; Vol. 44, Nol. 10, October 1996, pp. 1273-74.
Goodman, Mark, et al. Are U.S. lower normal B-12 limits too low? Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Vol. 44, No. 10, October 1996, pp. 1274-75.
Family Practice News reported on January 1, 2004 that 24% of people aged 60-69 had deficient levels of serum B12, defined as under 185 pmol/L.
High-dose B12 prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients – May, 2006
by Joseph G. Hattersley
It is interesting to consider what proportion of Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD) may result from under-nutrition, (1) especially when it seems that there may be an easy, low-cost, perfectly safe, nutritional way that may allow people to avoid a miserable illness that many people consider worse than death. Some people might say, “That’s too good to be true!” In fact, an at-home nutritional program, using a lot of vitamin B12 may indeed prevent and virtually eliminate AD. An early launch of the treatment soon after first warning symptoms start could even turn off the process.
Confusion, difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, marked changes in personality that can lead to outbursts of violence, hallucinations, wandering away, and early death all characterize Alzheimer’s dementia. An estimated 2.3 million Americans now have AD. Prevalence doubles every five years after the age of 60, increasing from one percent among those 60 to 64 up to 40% among those aged 85 years and older.
Let’s start with a little background. Mammals, including humans, are born with serum levels of vitamin B12 at about 2,000 pg/ml. The level declines throughout human life owing to practices common in Western societies. Below 550 to 600 pg/ml, deficiencies start to appear in the cerebrospinal fluid. US clinical laboratories regard 200 pg/ml as the lower range of normal.
“Most cases of Alzheimer’s dementia are actually missed B12 deficiency cases, because of the too-low normal range for B12,” wrote John V. Dommisse, MD in 1991 in Medical Hypotheses. Dommisse, who practices medicine in Tucson, Arizona, has confirmed that Alzheimer’s disease appears to result from too-low serum vitamin B12, and repletion of the vitamin succeeds despite other risk factors. Repleting B12 can reverse 75% of B12 deficiency dementias when the condition is discovered early enough.
Other aspects of the therapy should be noted: The neurological and cerebral manifestations of B12 deficiency require dosages larger, and extending over a longer time, than to those needed to reverse hematologic effects. B12 therapy appears to be perfectly safe; in other words, the risk of overdose is virtually nil. Patients of Dr. H.L. Newbold in New York City injected themselves three times daily with triple-strength doses of B12 (9,000 ug/micrograms/per day) indefinitely. Their serum B12 levels reached 200,000 pg/ml (100 times the normal level found in newborn babies and higher), but none had any significant side effects.
Vitamin B12 can prevent major birth defects
By Will Dunham – Mon Mar 2, 12:02 am ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Before becoming pregnant, women need to get enough vitamin B12 in addition to folic acid to cut their risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain and spinal cord, researchers said on Monday.
Irish women with the lowest vitamin B12 levels were five times more likely to have a baby with a neural tube defect than those with the highest levels, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.
Neural tube defects can lead to lifelong disability or death. The two most common ones are spina bifida, in which the spinal cord and back bones do not form properly, and anencephaly, a fatal condition in which the brain and skull bones do not develop normally.
Dr. James Mills of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, one of the researchers, said the study showed that vitamin B12 deficiency was a risk factor for neural tube defects independent of folic acid, another B vitamin.
Many women now know of the importance of folic acid and there has been a drop in neural tube defects.
Mills said he hopes that awareness of the similar role of vitamin B12 can reduce neural tube defects further…
“An absolutely critical point is that women have to consider this before they become pregnant because once they realize they are pregnant it’s likely to be too late,” Mills, a researcher in the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a telephone interview.
The developmental events involved in these birth defects occur in the first four weeks of pregnancy, Mills said.
Mills urged women who do not eat meat or dairy products to be particularly aware of the need to get enough vitamin B12.
He had similar advice for women with an intestinal disorder such as inflammatory bowel disease that may prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of the vitamin.
The study involved almost 1,200 women in Ireland who gave blood samples during early pregnancy, which were analyzed to determine vitamin B12 levels.
The women in the lowest 25% of vitamin B12 levels were five times more likely than those in the highest 25% to have had a baby with a neural tube defect.
The researchers suggested that women have vitamin B12 levels above 300 nanograms per liter before getting pregnant.