Vitamin B12: Does it Have Anything To Do With Aging, Autism, and Schizophrenia?

Low levels of vitamin B12 happen to be a common denominator between elderly and young people who have autism and schizophrenia. Unstabilized blood levels of vitamin B12 can imply mental and neurological health conditions including memory loss and dementia, too. However, it is notable that people who are born with autism and schizophrenia have a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Autism and schizophrenia are disorders are mostly caused by unhealthy neurotransmitters in the body.

Sometimes, autistic people have certain neurotransmitters that are overproduced or it could be the opposite. On the other hand, a schizophrenic may easily have high levels of adrenaline while their GABA, an amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter, is produced at low levels or the opposite.

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is a necessary nutrient for regular individuals, especially people with mental disorders.  Our neurotransmitters that trigger emotions, release energy, and stimuli nerves and tissues need vitamin B12. 

What is Schizophrenia?

To learn more about the relationship between schizophrenia and vitamin B12, let's tackle the mental disorder first:

Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. A person with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing what is real and what is imaginary. The person may be unresponsive or withdrawn from society. He or she may also have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations and may have difficulty keeping ties and dealing with other people due to how they perceived the world. Thus, it is often confused with multiple personality disorder.

Most people also think that those with schizophrenia are violent, although statistics show that they are not and a threat to the safety of people. The symptoms from one person vary from the other. To clear, this condition is not caused by poor parenting, poor childhood, or lack of determination. Although the cause of schizophrenia is still inconclusive, scientific studies have shed some light on its possible causes.

Theories pinpoint genetics, biology, brain chemistry, or immune disorders. If you think about it, all these reasons actually support each other. Genetics also affects our cells, hormones, metabolism. It affects how our body utilizes nutrients, how normal our bodies function, and how immune disorders are produced.

This brings us to how Vitamin B12 may have something to do with the improvement of imbalanced neurotransmitters, a possible cause of schizophrenia. People who are deficient with vitamin B12 must make up for the nutrients that the body needs.

Brain Chemistry

Scientific theories have concluded that people with schizophrenia have an imbalance of the neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate, and serotonin. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that are released from nerve to nerve to transfer impulses causing communication of impulses, allowbody to feel, think, and have sensations.

These neurotransmitters travel from nerves to the brain to communicate messages and this is how we know if we are in pain, if we are hungry, if we are happy, if something feels hot or cold. An imbalance of these chemical affects how a person receives and responds to a stimulus. Senses can be very overwhelming to a schizophrenic person. The same can also be true to someone suffering autism. Autistic people usually have meltdowns where they feel low and down or angry, and this is often caused by the highs and lows of neurotransmitter level that can be very erratic.

Stimuli are very different in the body, eyes, mind, and senses of a schizophrenic person. This can lead to too much sensory overload which is why these people can often be affected by loud music, bright lights, and may have a problem when it comes to certain smells, tastes, sights, sounds that can lead to delusions and phobias where none can be found for someone who has normal neurotransmitter levels.

Autism and Vitamin B12

Research does not deny this hypothesis as overall levels of cobalamin the brain tissue of children with autism were found to be three times lower than children without autism. This pattern of lower levels of B12 levels persists across the lifespan in the brain levels of those on the autism spectrum unless acted upon. Low levels of cobalamin in brains affected by autism of schizophrenia might also result from oxidative stress caused by a lot of factors that are inherent and consistent given their genetic makeup and constant and usually uninhibited neurotransmitter release. The huge deficit of cobalamin in the brains of individuals with autism and schizophrenia could help explain why patients suffering the consequences of the disorder to experience neurological symptoms

Several studies have delved into the association between vitamin deficiencies, particularly cobalamin, and neurological or personality disorders. There has been no definite study as genetic research has also made progress in concluding certain genetic mutations in the chromosome of those in the spectrum of autism.
On the case of aging, it is not surprising that levels of the nutrient diminish over time. But should we let it happen? Is it okay? If we let the normal course of life happen, aging really degrades the body and all the nutrients it has. Cobalamin has a serious role in the maintenance of the nervous system. The moment you let the deficiency take root consistently especially in your old age, you open a crack to your nervous health. And cracks are often where the damage begins. The deficiency of cobalamin in the brains due to aging may often be a sign for us to start taking foods that are rich in this nutrient or resort to supplementation in order to ensure optimal brain health.

 

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References:

Autism Speaks. (2016). What is epigenetics, and what does it have to do with autism?. [online] Available at: https://www.autismspeaks.org/node/123021 [Accessed 14 Dec. 2016].

Science, L. (2016). Low B12 Seen in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia. [online] Live Science. Available at: http://www.livescience.com/53675-vitamin-b12-aging-autism-schizophrenia.html [Accessed 14 Dec. 2016].

Autism Speaks. (2016). Study: Vitamin B12 levels low in brains affected by autism or schizophrenia. [online] Available at: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/study-vitamin-b12-levels-low-brains-affected-autism-or-schizophrenia [Accessed 14 Dec. 2016].

Google.com.ph. (2017). Cita un Sito web - Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: https://www.google.com.ph/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjatpifs77RAhWDvrwKHXZkD4QQFggmMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mentalhealthamerica.net%2Fconditions%2Fschizophrenia&usg=AFQjCNHQzb0_5SKKkqv6ClgpRoEmeYYzOA&sig2=N7tsL1YM5XqEb9nGozU0ZQ&bvm=bv.144224172,d.dGc [Accessed 13 Jan. 2017].

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