Scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes fibromyalgia, but they have noted some correlations between vitamin B12 deficiency and fibromyalgia that provide some important clues towards understanding the pattern of fibromyalgia. While not a cause of fibromyalgia, vitamin B12 deficiency is often a comorbid condition.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder that causes “phantom” chronic pain symptoms like sore, aching muscles, back pain, intense fatigue, and itchiness. Also, fibromyalgia patients tend to have multiple gastrointestinal aliments, such as stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and acid reflux indigestion.
Conditions required in order to diagnose fibromyalgia include:
- At least 11 of 18 “pressure points” around the body that, when pressed, trigger intense pain reactions.
- Chronic pain where no sign of injury or inflammation exists.
- Extensive testing to rule out any other possible illnesses or injuries.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally in all animal-based protein foods. Beef, chicken, seafood, eggs, yogurts, and cheeses are all excellent sources of vitamin B12. Your body uses vitamin B12 for all sorts of important biological functions affecting your red blood cells, nervous system, metabolism, and cognitive health.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 may include:
- Painful tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Sore muscles
- Muscle spasms
- Brain fog (confusion)
- Memory loss
- Gait problems, frequent stumbling
The vitamin B12 -fibromyalgia link
Sometimes, certain factors interfere with your ability to absorb cobalamin from the foods you eat.
Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder, and often, so is vitamin B12 deficiency. Having one autoimmune disorder raises your risk for having others, according to the latest research. So, it’s not uncommon for somebody with fibromyalgia to also suffer from autoimmune vitamin B12 deficiency.
Also, gastrointestinal ailments associated with fibromyalgia often lead to low vitamin B12. Damage to the small intestines or stomach impairs your ability to produce intrinsic factor, a necessary enzyme for absorbing B12. Frequent vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach ulcers caused by fibromyalgia contribute to a lack of intrinsic factor.
Sometimes, vitamin B12 deficiency is misdiagnosed as arthritis, depression, diabetes…or fibromyalgia. Since the symptoms often overlap, it can be difficult to separate one from the other. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, then it’s crucial to have your vitamin B12 levels checked routinely.
Still, blood tests for vitamin B12 levels are not always accurate, indicating total vitamin B12 levels, as opposed to active vitamin B12. For optimum health, doctors advise patients of fibromyalgia to supplement with vitamin B12 regularly.