Originally posted in November 2006 on my knitting blog.
I got a great book from the library, and I just wanted to share some of it. "Could it Be B12?" by Sally M. Pacholok, RN and Jeffrey J. Stuart, DO. Why did I get this book out?
I knew that B vitamin deficiency is quite common. On the back, there's a blurb...and the word 'autism' caught my eye. Before Huey started talking, there were suspicions of Austism. Then I see the word 'fertility'. No, I'm NOT trying. But you never know....I did have a miscarriage once, with no clear reason.
There is something in this book for just about anyone who has anything wrong with them. That's NOT to say that B12 deficiency is the cause for every malaise. But it is an easy thing to be deficient in, and easy to check. But doctors sometimes forget that easy and common should be starting places.
The first couple of chapters didn't do anything for me (Aging vs B12 def., Mental Illness, MS). Chapter 5 is about Strokes, Heart Disease, and other Vascular Problems.
I have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, despite being a decent weight, a non-smoker who exercises, and eats a reasonably good diet. I know I have a genetic situation passed down from my Dad. I asked my internist about my risk for a young age heart 'incident'. He said my risk is no greater than anyone else's, and women don't have to worry till menopause. Now, he's a nice doctor and all, but I get the feeling he's checking off days until retirement. While I'm doing as much as I'm willing to reduce my risks, I'm not too sure about that no risk yet idea of his.
This book goes into detail about the connection between B12 and Homocysteine. I have heard that homocysteine is a factor in heart disease...but with everything else to consider, knew nothing else. I won't go into too much detail, but if you are deficient in Vit. B12, your homocysteine levels go up, and that is apparently a greater predictor of heart attack than cholesterol levels. Okay, I'll add this bit "Excess homocysteine causes your blood vessels to lose their elasticity, making it harder for them to dilate, and damaging their inner lining. That damage, in turn, allows cholesterol, collagen, and calcium to attach to the inner walls of your blood vessels, where they can form sticky deposits called antherosclerotic plaques. These plaques narrow your arteries, and drastically increase your risk of suffering deadly disorders...." Guess who's calling the doctor? Folic acid gets mentioned a lot in heart health discussions, but research is showing that you need both folic acid and B12 to lower homocysteine levels. It's recommended that anyone at risk for B12 deficiency and anyone in their list on page 86 (including pregnant women) get tested for homocysteine levels.
The next chapter is "Lost Children: When B12 Deficiency Causes Developmental Disabilities or Learning Problems". So, we all know Huey has a Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD) called Sensory Integration Dysfunction. He's also showing signs of auditory dysfunction and has always been troubled with social skills issues. The first page of this chapter states "...it's often the most health-conscious mothers who put their children at greatest risk." (page 92). WHAT? A B12 deficient pregnant mother who breastfeeds, passes on a B12 deficiency to her child. Yes, most pregnant women take Folic Acid to lower their risk of Neural Tube Defects, but in order for folic acid to work, there has to be enough B12 around.
And only newly-absorbed vit. B12 readily crosses the placenta. So...a pregnant woman who is so nauseous that meat is mostly off the menu...(and I thought I had screwed him because I couldn't stand fish while pregnant so he's probably lacking in the Omegas as well). And breastfeeding while B12 deficient just results in a deficient child. B12 deficiency in infants shows when they lose their speech, social skills, and motor skills.
The women most at risk are vegans and vegetarians. While trying to be healthy in other ways, they can have such low levels of B12 that regular vitamins won't do any good. Vegan B12 supplements are made from plants, and the body doesn't recognize/use the ingredients as the same as animal protein B12, and these 'pseudo-vitamin B12' analogues may actually block the uptake of real B12 (which vegans/vegetarians aren't really getting anyway). The trouble is, Psuedo-B12 shows up as real B12 in blood tests. If you are a pregnant/nursing vegan/vegetarian, you should get a urine MMA regularly during pregnancy and nursing. And test your infant too. Even women with no risk factors can be starving her baby of B12. This is particularly true for infants who were not first-borns.
The good news is that an infant who gets tested positive for B12 def. will respond very quickly to treatment.
It's not just women who are at risk. Many children get put on veg. diets to improve their health. These children are now at high risk for B12 def. If they have been veg. for several years, just changing their diet will not replenish lost stores, even after numerous years. In fact, they may never reach optimal levels. These children need to have their urine MMA status checked regularly, and usually need B12 injections if high-dose oral supplements (ie--not a multi-vitamin) Flintstones vitamins contain 6 micrograms of B12, but 1000 micrograms are needed to correct a deficiency. That's a lot of Rubbles to swallow.
Other children at risk are those with Crohn's disease or any gastrointestinal disease ro surgery, any autoimmune disorder, celiac disease, gluten intolerance, iron deficiency, exposure to nitrous oxide...(and since reading "Wheat Belly" and realizing how crappy wheat is....)
There are also genetic conditions that affect the absorption of B12.
Now for the Autism/B12 connection. We all know that autism diagnosis rates are skyrocketing. Many theories abound. In Britain, it's the rapid decline of cold-water fish in the diet. In Japan, it's TV and video games. In the US, it's vaccines. Autism is actually a description rather than an actual diagnosis, because the cause (and there can be several) is rarely identified. Researchers are finding that many autistic children are improving with B12 injections, even if their MMA is within a 'normal' range. Pediatric B12 deficiency symptoms are also many autism symptoms. And many geriatric B12 def. symptoms are the same as autism.
The question is also asked, if there really is a link between vaccines with thimerosal (a preservative that is approximately 50% mercury) and autism, why don't all children who get the vaccines develop autism? Genetic predisposition is one factor. Another key piece of evidence is that when mercury is introduced into the body, B12 will bind to it in order to remove it. It's possible that the children who react adversely to mercury containing vaccines have undetected B12 deficiency or B12 defects, and their B12 def. is worsened when exposure to mercury causes additional stores to bind to the mercury and be removed from circulation. If a child has an undiagnosed inborn error of B12 metabolism, B12 transport defect, or just a deficiency.... (Also, since then, it's been found that Tylenol depletes the brain of gluthione, which is needed to remove heavy metals--such as those in vaccines. And doctors routinely recommend tylenol for babies, including prior to vaccines).
If you would like the list of Red Flags for B12 def. in infants, children and teenagers, let me know. It's on page 109.
Guess who's getting his MMA and homocysteine levels checked?
Still more to scare you. B12 and fertility. A deficiency in B12 can be associated with recurrent early fetal loss, reduced sperm counts and sperm motility. Before going for any expensive fertility treatments/testing, get both partners tested for urine MMA and homocysteine levels checked (high homocysteine levels have been linked with recurrent early miscarriage). There is also a the MTHRF gene that causes abnormally high homocysteine levels.
Now, the kicker. Are you at risk, and B12 and surgery chapters. I'm thinking...I've only ever had a D&C after a miscarriage (this was written before my breast reduction). But in reading that chapter--the risk is NOT the surgery, but the use of nitrous oxide. Apparently, the use of laughing gas short circuits the body's ability to use B12. Prior to getting pregnant with Huey I had a lot of dental work done. With laughing gas. While being told to not push for over 3 hours with Huey, I consumed a LOT of laughing gas (but who exactly, was laughing?). And recently Hugh had laughing gas at the dentist and I totally didn't remember this...