Life with MS & EDS

September 8, 2010

What’s one more pill?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by mseds @ 9:46 pm
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I used to hate swallowing pills.  I think that’s why I avoided vitamins for so long.  Then came injections for my MS.  After Copaxone and now Rebif, what’s a few pills?  My New Year’s Resolution was to start taking a multi-vitamin every day.  So far, this is the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept.  I added extra Vitamin D to that routine, so I now take 3 pills every day.  On Rebif shot nights, add to that 2 Aleve.  I’m up to 5 pills some nights.  So, what’s one more?

I recently read about Vitamin B12.  Until learning about CCSVI, I never would have thought to look into B12.  The more I learn about MS and CCSVI, the more it occurs to me that we need to be looking at the whole body.  MS is a complex disease and cannot be looked at through the narrow Central Nervous System lens.

Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency are very similar to MS symptoms.  Per Wikipedia:

Neurological signs of B12 deficiency, which can occur with or without anemia, include sensory disturbances (due to damage to peripheral nerves caused by demyelination) and irreversible nerve cell death. Symptoms include numbness and/or tingling of the extremities, altered proprioception, impaired sense of smell, loss of appetite (anorexia), disturbed coordination and, if not treated in time, an ataxic gait especially in the dark when there is less visual reference[2]. In extreme cases, B12 deficiency can lead to a syndrome known as subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord.

B12 deficiency can also cause symptoms of mania, psychosis, fatigue, memory impairment, irritability, depression and personality changes.

Not all of these symptoms overlap with MS, but the majority do: fatigue, depression, sensory disturbances, demyelination, tingling of extremities, and so on.  Neurologists are just recently starting to talk about the importance of Vitamin D, but why on earth are they not mentioning B12?  My suspicions about neurologists continue to grow.  Why is it that the are so quick to prescribe expensive injections and other medications when something as simple as popping vitamins isn’t even mentioned?  It’s completely frustrating.

I’ve also learned that B12 plays an important role in anemia.  I’ve always just thought that was iron-related.  I’ve been anemic my whole life (I haven’t eaten red meat since I was 12 and rarely ate it before then.)  Every blood test I’ve ever had has shown that I’m anemic.  While pregnant I was told by my OBGYN to take iron, but no one ever mentioned B12.  At least the OBGYN was willing to discuss vitamin supplements, unlike my neurologists.  Dr. Specialist sees my quarterly Rebif bloodwork results, which always show anemia, and she just blows it off.  Dr. Generalist and my general practice doctor have ignored that, too, even though I’ve specifically asked each of them about my iron levels.  Again, very frustrating!

Speaking of anemia, from what I’ve read, B12 deficiency can occur with or without anemia, so you can’t only go by your regular labwork reports.  It looks like I am going to have to ask them to specifically check my B12 levels.  Not that I want them to take yet another vial of blood, but it seems that this information would be at least as critical as knowing whether Rebif is killing my liver, right?

The more I search on the benefits of B12, the more blogs and other websites I find that talk about the relationship between B12 and myelin.  Wikipedia has an interesting scientific explanation about the relationship between myelin and B12.  It’s a bit over my head, but still worth a read.  I wish I would have come across this information sooner.  I wonder what else is out there that is so painful obvious and simple to address that I’m missing because I’m not informed enough to know to go look for it?  If it wasn’t for my mom-in-law mentioning B12 and sharing an article, I never would have thought to Google it in the first place.

In honor of the Jewish New Year, I’m adding onto my New Year’s Resolution and adding B12 to my routine.  I hope B12 is as great as Vitamin D has been.  I’ll keep you posted!

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