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B12 and ADHD

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Vitamin B12 and ADHD - Learn how it helps increase concentration.

Recent studies have shown that there is a link between Vitamins and ADHD. Vitamins play an important role in the production of energy packets in the brain cell.

The lack of sufficient vitamins can hinder the production of energy and that might prompt the onset of ADHD, characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness, and carelessness.

Among the various vitamins required for the proper functioning of the brain, Vitamin B12 is counted amongst one of the most vital of them all.

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the production of myelin, a protective sheath round the neurons. Lack of sufficient Vitamin B12 can lead to tiredness and depression, the two common symptoms associated with ADHD.

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin belonging to the B complex group. It is important for the normal functioning of the central nervous system and also essential for the formation of blood.

Vitamin B12 is also needed for cellular metabolism, DNA and fatty acid production and regulation as well as energy production in the body.

Vitamin B12 is commercially sold as cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin, two forms which are not produced in the body. On absorption, cyanocobalamin is converted to methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin to remove the cyanide part.

Vitamin B12 is used for the treatment of a deficiency of the vitamin and for treating cyanide poisoning (hydroxocobalamin which then converted to cyanocobalamin).

The vitamin has very low toxicity and is considered safe in high doses.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Anemia is the chief cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Poor diet and hereditary deficiency can also lead to a deficiency in the vitamin.

Prolonged Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to permanent damage to the brain and nervous system. The deficiency is also known to trigger mania and psychosis.

If the Vitamin B12 level in the body falls slightly below its normal values, it can produce symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss and depression.

Because some of these symptoms are shared with ADHD, Vitamin B12 deficiency is believed to be a contributing factor to ADHD.

The recommended daily intake value of Vitamin B12 is between 2 and 3 micrograms. Although for ADHD, doses as high as (and even higher than) 1000 micrograms can be taken daily. Because Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, the risk of toxicity is low since the body can simply eliminates any excess vitamin.

Bacteria are known to be good sources of Vitamin B12. Since plants and animals do not produce Vitamin B12 on their own, these bacteria are responsible for the B12 content of plants and animals.

Vitamin B12-producing bacteria can be found in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals and in the roots of plants. However, animal sources are preferable since absorption through plant sources is minimal.

Other food sources of the vitamin include egg, milk, animal liver, fish, shellfish, and foods fortified with the vitamin.

The Different Forms of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is the most complex of the vitamins. There are four known forms of this vitamin: cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the most common commercial form of the vitamin. It is not produced in the body but rather as a byproduct of purifying other forms of Vitamin B12. However, cyanocobalamin has two advantages: it can be easily crystalized and it is stable to oxidation when exposed to the air.

Hydroxocobalamin is also not found in the human body but it is the form of Vitamin B12 produced by bacteria. Since it easily picks up cyanide to become cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin is the form of Vitamin B12 used for treating cyanide poisoning.

It is supplied as an injectable solution and more easily converted to active forms of Vitamin B12. Although hydroxocobalamin is an expensive form of B12, it lasts longer in the body and it is the preferred commercial form of Vitamin B12 in certain cases.

Adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin are the two active forms of Vitamin B12 in the body. The body stores Vitamin B12 mostly as adenosylcobalamin in the liver.

B12 and ADHD:

The proper intake of Vitamin B12 regulates the production of adenosyl-methionine, which a type of amino acid.

According to Dr. Richard A. Kunin, adenosyl-methionine can help in alleviating the patient’s mood and mental sharpness.

Dr. Kunin states that Vitamin B12 joins along with Folic acid works ensure the maximum production of adenosyl-methionine.

Sufficient quantity of Vitamin B12 ensures the proper synthesis of S-adenosyl-methionine, and thus promotes concentration, a feeling of well-being, and mental alertness.

Studies and Research on B12 for ADHD:

A research done by John Lindenbaum, at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, proved that lack of Vitamin B12 can cause neurological troubles as well as the feeling of fatigue.  

Studies have also shown that a proper intake of Vitamin B12 is required to manage ADHD symptoms such as memory loss, depression, delusions, difficulty in thinking etc.

Can Vitamin B12 help to treat a person with ADHD:

Vitamin B12 cannot treat ADHD alone. It can only be used to reduce some of the symptoms inflicting ADHD affected people.

However, it cannot eradicate ADHD completely. Vitamins for ADHD can be used to enhance mental alertness and help alleviate other symptoms.

Some studies have shown that individuals with ADHD symptoms experienced significant improvements after taking Vitamin B12 supplements.

Apart from a balanced healthy diet and proper exercise, it is suggested that you give a correct dosage of essential vitamins like B12 to your child.

Children with vitamin B12 deficiency are known to have mental and physical problems, including inattentiveness and inability to concentrate and focus.

Possible Drug Interactions with Vitamin B12

While Vitamin B12 is not a cure for ADHD, it helps a lot in improving the symptoms of the medical condition. However, it is important to know which other medications can interfere with the absorption or activity of the vitamin so as to get the most benefit from its supplementation.

First, people who show allergic reactions to Cobalamin, cobalt or the commercially sold forms of the vitamin should avoid it. This form of allergy is rare but it has been reported before.

Drugs which can reduce the absorption of Vitamin B12 include potassium supplements especially potassium chloride, colchicine, H2-receptor antagonists (such as ranitidine and cimetidine), Proton-pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole), neomycin, phenytoin, phenobarbital, colestipol, cholestyramine and alcohol.

Bacterial overgrowth in the gut can bind Vitamin B12 and reduce its absorption. In this case, antibiotics such as Flagyl can be used to reduce gut bacteria flora and improve absorption of the vitamin.

Care should be taken when taking folic acid supplements as the vitamin can mask the some symptoms, but not the neurological damage, of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

How to take Vitamin B12:

The best way to ensure that you get full and adequate Vitamin B12 is to take a B-12, B-6 and Folic Acid supplement.

You can also consume Vitamin B 12 rich food such as meat, liver, eggs, shrimps, and dairy products.

However, considering the fact that taking Vitamin B-12 alone is not enough to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD, you may consider taking supplements such as Listol, ADD-care, Learning Factors, and Focus Formula.

For more information regarding ADHD treatments, read our articles on Five Vitamins For ADHD and 3 Natural ADHD Remedies.

Next Article: Learning Factors Review - By Natural Factors


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