Patients recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that have low levels of vitamin B12 develop symptoms faster than those with higher levels, which suggests supplementation could postpone the progression of symptoms.
This is according to a new study published in the journal Movement Disorders.
Parkinson’s disease is a condition where parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years, and the three main symptoms are a tremor, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness.
The research demonstrates that low vitamin B12 levels are associated with greater walking and balance problems, possibly due to the known effect of a B12 deficiency on the central peripheral nervous systems.
In the study, researchers divided patients, who were recently diagnosed but had not yet begun treatment, into three groups according to their levels of vitamin B12 and assessed them over a two-year period.
Upon completion of preliminary evaluations, patients were given the opportunity to take a controlled daily vitamin supplement. Research results showed improved vitamin B12 levels in approximately 50 per cent of participants, indicating supplementation was taken.
Disease progression in patients with improved vitamin B12 levels was found to be much slower with them exhibiting a decreased score on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) (a measure of Parkinson’s disability) compared with those maintaining low levels of the vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is vital for cognitive health, however it is notoriously difficult to absorb through the gut, meaning that supplementing has become a necessity – B12 is so difficult to absorb that only one per cent of intake from food is retained, according to founder and managing director of natural health company BetterYou.
He said: “B12 is a vital nutrient, by delivering it orally in spray form it benefits from the super absorbent soft tissue of the mucosal membrane within the mouth and the proximity of a rich vascular system.
“Our daily required intake for health maintenance is relatively small, however few foods provide a rich source (red meats and offal are major sources) and more restricted diets omit these. In addition, B12 is a very difficult vitamin to absorb and our digestive efficiency is reducing rapidly.
“Supplementation is becoming more of a necessity for us and using a spray in the mouth bypasses the digestive system, ensuring optimal absorption.”
Vitamin B12 Sprays are available from health stores such as Holland & Barratt – for example BetterYou B12 Boost Oral Spray.
Vitamin B12 is important for many body processes, but if it’s in short supply the body won’t make as many red blood cells, they will be abnormally large and won’t last for as long as they should.
If you don’t have enough red blood cells your tissues and organs may not get enough oxygen and this can lead to the symptoms of anaemia.
According to Bupa, your body may lack vitamin B12 if the foods you eat don’t contain enough vitamin B12 – a common problem for vegetarians and vegans – or your body can’t absorb the vitamin – an immune condition called pernicious anaemia can cause this.
So what are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia?