What does Vitamin B12 deficiency have to do with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome? Vitamin B12 protects your nervous system, and many of the symptoms of pernicious anemia from B12 deficiency result in poor muscle control, including muscular spasms, nervous eye twitching, decreased motor skills, and difficulty walking.
Vitamin B12 benefits the nerves
Cyanocobalamin or Vitamin B12 benefits your body in many ways- it lends itself in red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, healthy cognitive functioning, energy production, and homocysteine control. Also, vitamin B12 helps your body produce myelin, a fatty substance that protects your nervous system’s sensitive nerve fibers in the brain and the spinal cord.
Without sufficient levels of vitamin B12, you may develop severe nerve damage- peripheral neuropathy.
Some symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency- peripheral neuropathy include:
- painful tingling and numbness in the hands, feet, and ankles
- sore tongue
- burning mouth syndrome
- muscular weakness
- muscle spasms
- decreased motor control
- frequent clumsiness and tripping
- difficulty balancing on one foot
- eye twitching
Vitamin B12 deficiency and other movement disorders
It should come as no surprise, then, that other movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease (PD) have close ties with vitamin B12 deficiency. Involuntary muscular movements may or may not be caused by low B12 levels, but
- In some movement disorder cases, scientists have noted improvement with vitamin B12 supplements.
- Even when pernicious anemia is not a cause of muscle spasms or walking difficulties, researchers sometimes notice a comorbid relationship with vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Another occurrence in diagnosing movement disorders is a tendency for doctors to misdiagnose vitamin B12 deficiency as a more serious illness, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s disease.
In a scientific report on Parkinson’s and neuropathy, researchers confirmed a high rate of vitamin B12 deficiency in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and recommended close monitoring of B12 levels and routine administration of vitamin B12 supplements. Results were published in Neurology.
Chorea- focal dystonia
Chorea is an abnormal involuntary movement disorder, part of a group of neurological disorders called dyskinesia. Chorea is a symptom of Huntington’s disease, but it can also occur in other illnesses, including focal dystonia. In one of many studies on vitamin B12 deficiency and focal dystonia, scientists saw favorable results with cyanocobalamin supplementation, attributing it to decreased homocysteine levels.
Restless leg syndrome
The most common symptom of restless leg syndrome is the urgent need to shake your leg to relieve “creeping, crawling” sensations, usually between the kneecap and ankle.Restless leg syndrome occurs often with peripheral neuropathy, a symptom of pernicious anemia. Other possible causes are kidney disease, diabetes neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, and drug interactions.
Stiff person syndrome
Stiff-person syndrome (SPS) is a rare neurological disorder that occurs with autoimmune disease. Symptoms of SPS are muscle spasms in the limbs and trunk, hypersensitivity to touch, noise, and stress, and stiff posture. People who often suffer stiff person syndrome are patients of pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency), diabetes, thyroiditis, and vitiligo.
Ataxia is an inability to control muscular movements used in walking, jumping, balancing, or holding objects. Chronic ataxia is one of the earliest symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, along with muscular weakness, poor reflexes, spasticity, vision impairment, dementia, and psychosis, according to a Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center study of 153 patients suffering from cobalamin deficiency neuropathy.
Eye movement disorders
Nystagmus, uncontrollable movements of the eyeballs, might be caused by low vitamin B12 levels, according to a study focusing on downbeat nystagmus and vitamin B12 deficiency. Another phenomenon common with B12 deficiency is myokymia– eyelid twitching.
Read more about B12 deficiency and your nervous system:
Balance your B12, Balance your Nerves
Myokymia is not a Hawaiian Island- Eyelid Twitching and Eye Spasms
If Vitamin B12 Deficiency Mimics Multiple Sclerosis, How do you tell the Difference?
The Movement Disorder Society- MDS
Eye movement disorders in vitamin B12 deficiency: two new cases and a review of the literature
Neuropathy in Parkinson disease
Reversible Chorea and Focal Dystonia in Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Restless leg syndrome
Neurologic aspects of cobalamin deficiency- PubMed NCBI
Images, from top:
eye2eye, milos milosevic