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The b12 connection

MagazineMarch 1997 (Vol. 7 Issue 12)The b12 connection

MS specialist Dr Patrick Kingsley's clinical experience has been borne out by medical research (JAMA, 1991; 266: 2210) which shows that MS sufferers tend to have much lower levels of B12 than do healthy people (J Appl Nutri, 1973; 25: 16-40; Int J Neuroscience, 1993; 71(1-4): 93-9)

MS specialist Dr Patrick Kingsley's clinical experience has been borne out by medical research (JAMA, 1991; 266: 2210) which shows that MS sufferers tend to have much lower levels of B12 than do healthy people (J Appl Nutri, 1973; 25: 16-40; Int J Neuroscience, 1993; 71(1-4): 93-9).

For instance, when six patients with chronic and progressive MS were given tablets containing 60 mg of methylcobalamin, a vitamin B12 complex, for six months, their visual and hearing abilities improved over that period (Int Med, 1994; 33:82-6).Researchers in America also found a link between B12 deficiency caused by pernicious anemia (a condition caused by the body's inability to process the B12 necessary for red blood cell production) and MS. Doctors described a patient who had previously been treated with adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) and steroids.

After stopping the ACTH treatment the patient was treated weekly with B12 injections. In six months the patient showed increased strength in one leg and a normal blood count.

The researchers concluded: "All patients diagnosed as having MS should be screened for possible underlying or associated vitamin B12 deficiency" (Lancet, May 26, 1990).

It may even be possible that some people with acute B12 deficiency are misdiagnosed as having MS (Hospital Patients, 1995; 30(7): 47-52). However Dr. Kingsley warns that the usual blood screening tests are of limited value, and that practitioners should rely on clinical diagnosis.

Although it was previously thought that damage to the myelin sheath was irreversible, it is now thought that remyelination is possible and that B12 plays an active role in this process (Drugs, 1994; 48: 137-52).


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