Vitamin B12 Deficiency: What are the consequences?

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Anti-inflammatory Properties of Vitamin B12 

Apart from the important role that vitamin B12 plays in the functioning of the brain and nervous system and in red blood cell production, vitamin B12 also has an important role in the control of inflammation. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been implicated in several inflammatory diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, neuritis, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. In addition it has also been found that administration of high doses of vitamin B12 may be beneficial in the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema,  psoriasis, osteoarthritis, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.. There is also evidence that vitamin B12 has potential use in the treatment of chronic pain. 

Vitamin B12 and Nitric Oxide

Chronic expression of nitric oxide is associated with various inflammatory conditions including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, IBD and ulcerative colitis. Nitric oxide has been shown to react with Vitamin B12 and it is possible that the vitamin B12 deficiency that has been associated with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, neuritis, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease is due to the constant release of nitric oxide, which then reacts with circulating vitamin B12..This reaction may in itself lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, thus exacerbating the condition. Studies have shown that chronic fatigue patients have high levels of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite, which may be related to the symptoms associated with CFS. Continued production of nitric oxide is known to negatively affect brain function and pain sensitivity, which may be related to its association in CFS, MS, Alzheimer's disease, neuritis and Parkinson's disease.. 

Vitamin B12 and NFkB

One of the initiating factors in inflammation is the production of NFκB, which in turn triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cellular signaling molecules (cytokines). NFκB also controls the production of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclo-oxgenase 2 (COX-2), growth factors, inhibitors of apoptosis. It has recently been shown that high doses of vitamin B12can inhibit the production of   NFκB, which could potentially combine with nitric oxide scavenging by vitamin B12' to further reduce inflammation.

Topical Vitamin B12 

Treatment of inflammation with high doses of Vitamin B12 cannot be achieved using oral vitamin B12 supplements due to the limited uptake capacity for vitamin B12 in the intestine. For this reason, vitamin B12 deficiency or  inflammatory conditions such as fibromyalgia are normally treated with vitamin B12 injections. Recently a  topical form of vitamin B12 has been developed which is a specially formulated preparation that is an easy to apply, needle-free delivery system to the skin of the patient. This pain-free form of delivery greatly increases the patient comfort experienced during the administration of the medication and allows for self-medication without the need for medical staff or any special training. Oral supplementation with vitamin B12 does not provide enough vitamin B12 to overcome vitamin B12 deficiency due to the limited uptake capacity of the intestine for vitamin B12, hence there is a requirement for higher initial doses of vitamin B12 to be supplied either by injection or via the topical vitamin B12 formulation.  Clinical trials with topical preparations of vitamin B12 have shown that it provides considerable relief for patients with psoriasis and ezcema. In addition, the topical formulation is particularly suited to patients with chronic inflammatory diseases who may have gastro-intestinal problems, such as gastric ulcers, atrophic gastritis, Crohnís Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, or who are on Metformin medication, which can often lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Further Information on Nitric Oxide and NFkB

See the following web-sites:-

http://www.abcam.com/index.html?pageconfig=resource&rid=11255&pid=10629

A list of Scientific publications referenced on vitamin B12 and inflammation referred to in this site can be found here

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