SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA. Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with the development of megaloblastic anemia, mental dysfunction, and dementia resembling Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a very important cofactor in several biochemical reactions including the conversion of homocysteine to methionine and the synthesis of SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). These reactions are believed to be crucial in maintaining neurological health.
Researchers at the University of Milan now report that a vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with higher
levels of the inflammatory cytokine, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and reduced levels of
epidermal growth factor (EGF). It is believed that high levels of TNF-alpha speed up the progression of
Alzheimer's disease thus explaining the association between low vitamin B12 levels and Alzheimer's. The
researchers point out that the increase in TNF-alpha and the decrease in EGF can both be reversed by
vitamin B12 supplementation. TNF-alpha is also implicated in the progression of HIV to AIDS and vitamin
B12 has been found to slow this progression.