Swiss researchers have seen lower levels of vitamin B12 in the brains of people with autism. The researchers believe that vitamin B12 deficiency contributes to how neuropsychiatric disorders develops.
In the study, researchers measured levels of various substances in the participant’s lobe. Among other things, they examined the level of vitamin B12. A vitamin found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
This water-soluble vitamin has a key role to play in our bodies, involved in the metabolism of every cell, especially affecting DNA synthesis, fatty acid, and amino acid metabolism.
The swiss study involved participants of all ages, from those who were only fetuses up to those who were 80 years old. They either had either been given a diagnosis of autism, schizophrenia or a missed diagnosis.
The researchers first noticed an emerging pattern concerning B12 and age. The older the patients were, the lower the levels of B12 were. This was true for all participants and appears to be true for everyone.
The researchers then made the discovery that the participants with an autism or schizophrenia diagnosis had about one-third the vitamin B12 levels, compared with healthy people at the same age.
It, therefore, appears as if autism and schizophrenia may be linked to lack of transport of vitamin B12 through the so-called blood-brain barrier, which otherwise protects the brain from harmful substances from the outside.
Researchers now call for additional research to explore whether the use of supplemental methyl B12 could help easy ease symptoms of these neurological conditions. However, this study remains speculative in its hypothesis that vitamin B12 deficiencies at a cellular level lead to changes associated with the autism spectrum of brain traits. In other words, it might be a correlation, but not necessarily a causation.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin and special in many ways. Deficiency causes a wide range of problems and can be difficult to diagnose. A mild deficiency may not cause any discernible symptoms, but as the deficiency becomes more significant, symptoms of anemia may result, such as weakness, fatigue, light-headedness, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing and pale color to the skin.
It is only produced by certain forms of bacteria in nature and is not made by any known multicellular organism. These so-called prokaryotic organisms, i.e. bacteria and archaea, can form B12 in a long production process that involves many potential obstacles on the way.
This important and elusive vitamin is actually produced by some gut bacteria in humans, but it is somewhat ironic that we cannot absorb the B12 made in our guts, as it is made in the colon which is too far from the small intestine, where absorption of B12 occurs.