A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that those with neurological diseases, including old-age dementia, autism and schizophrenia showed lower levels of vitamin B12.
The facts that blood levels of B12 do not always mirror brain levels of the vitamin, and that brain levels decrease more over the years than blood levels, may imply that various types of neurological diseases — such as old-age dementia and the disorders of autism and schizophrenia — could be related to poor uptake of vitamin B12 from the blood into the brain, the scientists said.
The findings, reported last month in the journal PLOS ONE, support an emerging theory that the human brain uses vitamin B12 in a tightly regulated manner to control gene expression and to spur neurological development at key points during life, from the brain’s high-growth periods during fetal development and early childhood, through the refining of neural networks in adolescence, and then into middle and old age.
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, plays a crucial role in blood formation and the normal functioning of the nervous system. The vitamin is found in foods derived from animal sources, although some plant-based foods can be fortified with B12.