A test that generally is used to measure the amount of vitamin B12 in the body is not sensitive enough to detect a deficiency of the vitamin, which has been linked to several neurological conditions, according to Saint Louis University research. The findings were presented this month at a meeting of the American Neurological Association.
"B12 deficiency is associated with dementia, peripheral neuropathy and spinal cord disease," says Florian Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and a researcher on the project. "While it occurs at any age, B12 deficiency is more common in the elderly, may affect some vegetarians and their newborns, can be provoked by laughing gas anesthesia and also by a unique form of recreational drug use. Importantly, it is very easy to treat by taking one pill per day for life. We need to do a better job of detecting the problem."
Thomas and his Saint Louis University colleagues, Laurence J. Kinsella, M.D., associate professor of neurology, and Jamie T. Haas, M.D., a neurology resident, found that the standard test for B12 deficiency -- measuring its blood level -- may be too insensitive.
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