The symptoms reported by someone with a vitamin B12 deficiency and by someone with multiple sclerosis (MS) are strikingly similar. These symptoms include the following:
- Gait Problems
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Vision loss
As mentioned in a previous blog, many doctors still confuse the effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency with multiple sclerosis, because the symptoms are identical. The reason for this are the similar origins of these conditions.
Multiple sclerosis is caused by a disruption in the insulation surrounding the nerve cells that keep the electrical impulses on track. This insulation is a fatty sheath known as myelin. The breakdown in myelin wreaks havoc on the neurological system in the body. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body attacks its own myelin. Scientists still don’t know why this happens, but it is known to have genetic causes.
While multiple sclerosis is not curable, a vitamin B12 deficiency is. A severe vitamin B12 deficiency causes the breakdown of myelin, which also leads to neurological impairments that are found in patients with MS. This is why testing MS patients for a vitamin B12 deficiency is crucial.
There are cases where MS victims have symptoms that are not a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, the possibility exists that these patients may be helped with vitamin B12 injections.
Victims of multiple sclerosis where the age of onset was before eighteen usually have blood plasma B12 levels that are very low. It is suspected that this vitamin B12 deficiency may leave some people more prone to MS.
Since vitamin B12 is necessary in the formation of myelin, it is possible that people with MS may need extra vitamin B12 to reverse the damage.
Although studies are inconclusive at this point in time, it is possible that patients with MS may benefit from extra vitamin B12 in their diets.