Patients who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and who have low levels of vitamin B12 develop their disease faster than those with higher levels of the vitamin, according to a new study. For that reason, the scientists recommend vitamin B12 supplements as a way of delaying the onset of the disease. Earlier studies even show that vitamin B3 and Q10 have a positive influence on the ailment.
Parkinson’s is an insidious disease and one of the most common chronic disorders of the nervous system. It typically occurs among those aged 50-70 years and is caused by deteriorated nerve cells and lack of the signaling substance, dopamine, which the brain uses to control various movements. Symptoms typically include uncontrollable shaking and muscle stiffness, slow movements, poor balance, fatigue, and a mask-like facial expression. The condition may also lead to depression and loss of cognitive skills.
Lack of vitamin B12 affects the nervous system
Vitamin B12 is of great importance to the nervous system and for making new nerve cells and maintaining existing ones. In people with Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells have deteriorated, and evidence suggests that lack of vitamin B12 increases the risk of developing the disease and causes it to progress faster.
The new study is published in the scientific journal Movement Disorders and shows that patients with Parkinson’s disease, who have low vitamin B12 levels, have greater problems with keeping their balance and walking normally. The researchers behind the study assume that this is a result of the already established fact that vitamin B12 deficiency affects the central and peripheral nervous system.
Facts about the two parts of the nervous system
In the study, those patients who had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease were divided into three groups depending on their levels of vitamin B12. Afterwards, they were followed for two years. After the first evaluations, the patients were given the opportunity to take a controlled daily vitamin supplement, which raised blood levels of vitamin B12 in half the patients.
The researchers found that those patients with higher levels of vitamin B12 showed slower progression of their disease according to the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). This scale is used to assess and measure the symptoms and their severity in categories such as motor skills, cognitive skills, energy levels, and mood. The researchers also observed that in those patients who lacked vitamin B12, the severity of their disease progressed faster, giving them symptoms such as tiredness, trembling, numbness, depression, and paranoia.
Widespread vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by many factors
Coli bacteria in the large intestine are able to produce vitamin B12, but experts disagree about how well the vitamin is absorbed in the small intestine. Animal food products are the richest source, and it is believe that only hard-core vegetarians and vegans are at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Still, around one in four Americans older than 60 years is deficient in this essential vitamin, and a similar figure would probably apply here in Europe. It is because the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient from food and supplements decreases as we grow older. In fact, maybe as little as one percent of the vitamin is the amount that the body is actually able to absorb.
It seems that there is a clear link between ageing processes, lack of vitamin B12 and an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Low stomach acid, overconsumption of alcohol, and the use of hormone pills and sleeping medication may also impair your ability to absorb vitamin B12. Other studies reveal that around 20 percent of those who take metformin against type 2 diabetes lack vitamin B12 or are borderline-deficient.
|A vitamin B12 deficiency can be detected with a blood test. Lack of vitamin B12 often occurs together with a folic acid deficiency.|
Supplements, absorption, and quality
Many vitamin B12 supplements contain very large doses because the body has difficulty with absorbing the nutrient. Some supplements come in the form of lozenges that provide much better absorption because the nutrient can be taken up directly via the oral mucosa.
Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin and is found in different forms in supplements. It is always a good idea to study the label and find out which form the product contains.
Cyanocobalamin is synthetic and contains cyanide, which is toxic
Methylcobalamin, a form that is more expensive to manufacture, is non-toxic.
It takes vitamin B12 injections to treat pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B3 also has a positive effect on Parkinson’s disease
According to a study, patients with early stages of Parkinson’s disease may be helped by increased intake of vitamin B3 from food or supplements. This is because the nutrient is needed for cellular energy turnover and to repair damaged nerve cell DNA. It is therefore vital to get adequate amounts of vitamin B3 to help prevent the dreaded disease. Vitamin B3 is found in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, nuts, kernels, and seeds. Deficiencies and poor utilization of the nutrient may be a result of unhealthy diets, alcohol abuse, ageing processes, liver ailments, and prolonged use of diuretics.
Q10 may relieve Parkinson’s symptoms
Q10 is a coenzyme that occurs in two forms. One form (ubiquinone) is involved in cellular energy turnover inside the mitochondria, where the other form (ubiquinol) serves as an antioxidant that protects cells and their mitochondria against free radicals and oxidative stress. Scientists have detected mitochondrial defects in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.
For that reason, it makes perfect sense to look closer at the effect of Q10.
According to a Japanese study, supplementing with 300 mg of Q10 daily can relieve symptoms in some patients with Parkinson’s disease, so supplements seem to be an obvious add-on therapy.
The researchers noted that ubiquinol, the antioxidant form of Q10, had the positive effect on Parkinson’s disease. However, when it comes to Q10 supplementation, it really makes no difference what form you choose, as long as the preparation you take has good bioavailability. The body converts ubiquinone to ubiquinol and vice versa, depending on what form it needs for different tasks. In order to be able to do that, the body needs selenium.
The human body is able to produce the major share of the Q10 it needs. However, from the age of 20 years, the endogenous synthesis gradually decreases. Many people notice that their energy levels drop when they reach their fifties.
If you use cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins), it impairs the body’s Q10 synthesis.
It is possible to compensate for the age-related reduction of Q10 levels in the body and the reduction induced by statin use by taking high-quality supplements with documented bioavailability. It is difficult for the body to absorb Q10 from supplements unless they have undergone a special manufacturing technique that involves the use of different types of vegetable oil and a heating process. This ensurea that the Q10 molecules are readily absorbable in the small intestine, rather than aggregating in large insoluble and indigestible crystals.
Vitamin B12 supplementation could postpone disease progression in Parkinson´s patients. News Medical Life Sciences, March 19, 2018
University of Leicester. People with forms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease may benefit from boosting niacin in diet, research suggest. ScienceDaily. 2017
Yoritaka A et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial of reduces coenzyme Q10 for Parkinson´s disease. PubMed 2015
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