Vitamins are crucial compounds our bodies can’t generate on their own, and need to be consumed in our diets. That doesn’t make them magic bullets for health, but it does make them important, and determining vitamin deficiencies can help understand the mechanisms of diseases. And vitamin B12 might be tied to a major one.
A team of researchers have just published a study where they analyzed the brains, post-mortem, of people suffering from autism, schizophrenia, and old-age dementia, as well as a control group of brains. They checked the levels of various forms of vitamin B12 in the brain. Why B12? It’s one of the crucial vitamins for the nervous system and has ties to health across the body, and a deficiency has been tied to everything from depression to developmental problems in children.
However, this isn’t a silver bullet. The sample size was necessarily small, and it’s not clear whether the deficiency was a cause or a symptom. If it is a symptom, that in turn raises the question of what’s causing it, and whether it has any ties to these diseases elsewhere. It’s an important link, if the science holds up.
In the meantime, if you’re worried about your B12 intake, it generally comes from animal products, so eat more lean protein like fish and chicken, or if you’re vegan, get supplements or injections. Just don’t start eating raw meat, as that can give you a vitamin B12 deficiency by, ah, indirect and disgusting means.
(Via PLOS ONE)