Could Alzheimer’s Be Undiagnosed Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

By on December 2, 2009
Alzheimer's Disease can be undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency

When is Alzheimer’s Disease NOT Alzheimer’s Disease? When it’s actually undiagnosed Vitamin B12 deficiency. Yet vitamin B12 deficiency- despite having identical symptoms in many cases- is almost never even considered as an alternate diagnosis- leaving tens of thousands suffering unnecessarily with a simple undiagnosed vitamin deficiency.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a growing personal and family problem as well as a HUGE financial burden for society. With a rising percentage of the population becoming senior citizens, and with those seniors living longer, Alzheimer’s Disease is becoming an ever growing crisis. There are over 4 million people in the US alone who have been diagnosed with this ‘incurable’ disease. Horribly, it leaves these seniors unable to remember even the simplest memories and completely dependent upon round-the-clock caregivers.

While millions is being spent on research for drugs, stem cell treatment, genetic manipulation, and pharmaceuticals to combat this growing problem, doctors in clinical practice are completely overlooking the scientific studies showing that at least some of these Alzheimer’s patients are suffering unnecessarily with simple vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, doctors are giving elderly patients antacid drugs at incredibly high rates, and these Antacids Can Cause Alzheimer’s Disease from the depletion of Vitamin B12 that comes along as a Side Effect of Omeprazole and other antacid medications.

“Alzheimer’s associated dementia
and patients with cobalamin deficiency
have identical neuropsychiatric symptoms”

‘Dementia Associated With Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency A Common Problem?

Vitamin B12 deficiency becomes more and more common as people get older. With some researchers estimating that over 800,000 elderly in the US have undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency, this is NOT a small problem. Even worse is that few clinicians know about vitamin B12 deficiency or are trained to look for its symptoms. Many elderly who should be screened for this simple vitamin deficiency are, instead, diagnosed with ‘incurable’ diseases that rob them of any possible quality of life.

That Mental Changes from B12 Deficiency can look EXACTLY like dementia was noted as far back as 1902! Since then, this topic has been studied many times, and it has even been shown that CAT Scans and MRI’s that show lesions and degeneration of the brain and spinal cord are often REVERSIBLE when these lesions are caused by vitamin B12 deficiency! Yet, using these modern techniques, the presence of brain and spinal cord abnormalities is almost always used as evidence for patients and families of the Irreversible nature of their disease- when that is not necessarily the truth at all!

“Fortunately, dementia secondary to B12 deficiency
is eminently reversible if the etiology of the dementia
is recognized early and therapy instituted promptly and vigorously”

‘Dementia and vitamin B12 deficiency’

Then in 1956 researchers began to recognize these neurologic problems as EXTREMELY EARLY symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency and that patients with dementia sometimes had dramatic reversals when treated with vitamin B12 early after their diagnosis. They also found that many cases that responded well to vitamin B12 therapy showed no abnormalities on blood tests at all. In other words, the researchers could find nothing CLINICALLY wrong with these patients, including Vitamin B12 deficiency, except for dementia, despite the fact that they improve using vitamin B12 supplements! Yet 50 years later, doctors still rely EXCLUSIVELY on blood testing to determine the need for Vitamin B12 therapy. The number of patients who could potentially benefit from this therapy is NOT small. A two year study done at Abyad Medical Center and Middle-East Longevity Institute in Lebanon showed that Vitamin B12 Therapy improved the cognitive function in MORE THAN HALF of the patients with dementia who completed the study!

But doctors just do not seem to be reading these studies, and a trial regimen of high dose Methylcobalamin B12 Supplements that costs less than $100 is virtually never instituted by doctors who use ‘evidence based medicine’ that requires them to have diagnostic studies to support their decisions. But this doesn’t take into account the evidence supporting a trial regimen of vitamin B12. With virtually no reported side effects or toxicities, this easy and inexpensive treatment would definitely save at least some Alzheimer’s patients from complete destruction of their mind. But because we can’t PROVE who is going to benefit ahead of time, and we have a medical culture that prefers pharmaceuticals to nutrients, Alzheimer’s patients who could have benefited if B12 therapy was instituted soon after diagnosis are left with no memory and no hope.

About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.
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