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Could Aging Problems and Dementia Be Caused By a Vitamin Deficiency?

Okay. I admit it. I’m a sucker for new research that shows vitamin deficiencies cause many diseases. My mom had studied nutrition way back when, and I grew up taking one of the only supplements available during the 50s and early 60s – the “One a Day” multiple vitamin.

As the “natural food” mentality flooded the country in the mid-60s through the 70s, many new supplements arrived on the market. I had my children in 1978 and 1980, respectively. I was an earth mother – reading Adel Davis books about natural foods and taking supplements; making my own baby food; nursing the babies. I don’t regret any of it, and I still believe in supplements.

Few of us eat perfect diets, and even those of us who come close are missing nutrients that escape during shipping, or that never fully develop because of early harvesting. I believe most of us can benefit from at least a multiple vitamin.

This rather circuitous introduction does have a point. A fascinating new book, titled “Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses,” by Sally M. Pacholok, R.N.  and Jeffrey J. Stuart, D.O. and published by Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc., is now available (look below, left, to browse on Amazon).

Through fascinating case studies and copious examples of medical research, the authors show how a deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause many illness, Alzheimer’s Disease, included.

Chapter titles include “Is It Aging – or Is It B12 Deficiency?” “Stoke, Heart Disease, and Other Vascular Problems: The B12-Homocysteine Connection,” and “Under the Knife: Why Low F12 Levels Make Surgery Dangerous.”

I remember my grandmother getting monthly B12 shots. That was decades ago. So, low B12 and aging aren’t a newly discovered combination. But this book will really get your mind whirling. Beware: after reading this book, you may find yourself pounding on your clinic door at midnight, demanding to get your B12 levels tested. It’s pretty powerful reading.

Comments

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If the book "Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of MisDiagnosis" had been in my hands prior to 2005, my husband and I would be living a better life today because we would be educated about something that the doctors should have warned us about. You see, my husband was on stomach acid inhibitors (PPI's) for 19 years. We were unaware of the role that acid plays in processing B12 and that without it, he would eventually become deficient if he did not supplement with B12.

In 2005 I saw signs that something was not quite right with him and then he realized it. He was unable to concentrate and described it as a "brain fog". He was diagnosed with dementia - his cognitive deficits are so bad that he could no longer work. His B12 came in at 224 which is within normal range (200-1100) but the laboratory noted 10% of the population with "normal" values between 200-400 can suffer from neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Who knows how long it had been this way. His first loading dose of B12 he felt the "brain fog" lifting and over time his visual field tests improved. He is still dealing with some very real cognitive deficits that remain. At the age of 55 he is permanently disabled because of something that could have been avoided.

Everyone should read the book by Sally Pacholok. She is obviously committed to saving people by providing them with very accurate information after years of research. B12 is not just another vitamin - it is a neurologic necessity and I'm afraid that unless more people are educated and/or identified as being deficient, there will be a nursing home shortage in the very near future as the baby boomers enter those golden years.

Hi Carol,

We are pleased you enjoyed our book and are helping alert the public and health care community to the dangers of vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 deficiency causes symptoms such as paresthesias, dementia, mental illness, tremor, difficulty ambulating, and injurous falls. B12 deficiency is commonly misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's disease, depression, diabetic neuropathy, vertigo, restless leg syndrome, mini-strokes, and early Parkinson's disease.

B12 deficiency is very common (especially in people over age 60) because of poor stomach acid production, specific drugs (proton-pump inhibitors, metformin)diet, and preexisting diseases.

All seniors who fall should be screened for underlying B12 deficiency as it causes dizziness and problems with balance. Screening these high risk symptomatic patients, however, is a rarity.

Major medical journals report B12 deficiency is present in up to 15% of the elderly as documented by elevated methylmalonic acid (MMA). Current census numbers report 36.6 American are over age 65. Using the most conservative figure (5%) we safely estimated there are 1.8 million B12 deficient elders. That jumps to 5.4 million using 15%. Other studies found the prevalence to be 15% to 25%. Theses stateistics don't include the vast number of Americans under 65 who become B12 deficient for a variety of other reasons.

Currently we are testing an assisted living center in Michigan as a community service using the urinary MMA test (which is the most sensitive for identifying B12 deficiency). Thus far we have screened 85 elders and 16 have come back positive for B12 deficiency (which equates to 19%). Many of these 16 individuals have dementia and frequent falls causing fractures (ie. broken hip).

The elderly are easily misdiagnosed due to increased incidence of preexisting diseases and comorbid conditions. There is a critical window of opportunity to treat B12 deficiency or irreversible neurologic injury will result (which would include permanent dementia).

Untreated B12 deficiency is a current unrecognized public health care crisis costing millions their health as well as billions of dollars.

Thank you again for alerting your readers that their loved ones beginning dementia may be caused by a simple vitamin B12 deficiency, and they need to demand for accurate testing using the urinary MMA test.
Information on the urinary MMA test can be found on the following link:
www.b12.com

Sally Pacholok, R.N., BSN
Jeffrey Stuart, D.O.


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