A to Z of MS
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A to Z of MS Vitamin B12 (Cobalin-H, Hydroxocobalamin)
The relationship between vitamin B12 and multiple sclerosis has provoked much discussion over the years. It is known that vitamin B12 deficiency can mimic the symptoms of MS and that vitamin B12 is needed to maintain myelin. However, the case for people who do not have deficiency taking the vitamin as a supplement has not been demonstrated by research.
Some studies have shown that some people with MS are also deficient in vitamin B12. One study showed that vitamin B12 levels in the blood were normal, but were lower than usual in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with MS suggesting that they might not be able to metabolise vitamin B12 in the same way as other people.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can be detected by a simple blood test administered by a GP.
Vitamin B12 is found in foods of animal origin. Good sources include meat, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs, yeast extract, and some fortified breakfast cereals.
Although not supported by research evidence, some people use monthly injections of vitamin B12 (hydroxocobalamin) as a treatment for fatigue.
Vitamin B12 supplements were one of the elements of the Cari Loder regime.
Nijst TW, et al.
Vitamin B12 and folate concentrations in serum and cerebrospinal fluid of neurological patients with special reference to multiple sclerosis and dementia
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 1990;53:951-954.
Vrethem M, et al.
Increased plasma homocysteine levels without signs of vitamin B12 deficiency in patients with multiple sclerosis assessed by blood and cerebrospinal fluid homocysteine and methylmalonic acid.
Multiple Sclerosis 2003;9(3):239-245.
Wade DT, et al.
A randomised placebo controlled exploratory study of vitamin B-12, lofepramine, and L-phenylalanine (the "Cari Loder regime") in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 2002; 73:246-249.