People with fibromyalgia experience pain in their muscles, fatigue and tenderness in various places of the body. No one knows what causes this chronic disease, which afflicts more women than men. Some people with fibromyalgia may also suffer from anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. Many people with fibromyalgia also have low levels of vitamin B12. This information may one day provide the clue to the cause of this mysterious illness.
Your body uses vitamin B12 in the formation of red blood cells. It's also an important vitamin for the health of your central nervous system and helps in the function of your metabolism. Vitamin B12 is water soluble, meaning your body doesn't store it in reserves, so you need to take in B12 regularly. B12 is found in animal products such as milk, meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Vegetarians and those who don't consume B12-rich foods can get B12 from vitamin supplements.
A lack of sufficient B12 can lead to numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, balance problems, weakness and anemia. Some of these symptoms, particularly fatigue, are also associated with fibromyalgia. FightingFatigue.org, an organization for sufferers of fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, notes that fibromyalgia sufferers sometimes have low levels of B12. But simply taking B12 doesn't cure the disease, so while the deficiency may be another symptom of the malady, it isn't a cause.
B12 and Fibromyalgia Research
In 1997, researchers at Sweden's Goteborg University's Institute of Clinical Neuroscience surveyed 12 women who suffered from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. All the women had higher than normal levels of a substance called homocysteine in their cerebrospinal fluid. They also suffered from low B12 levels. The Swedish researchers found a correlation between B12 deficiency and the high homocysteine levels.
SAMe, B12 and Fibromyalgia
S-Adenosylmethionine, more commonly known as SAMe, is a chemical component your body makes from amino acids. Though the link between B12 and SAMe isn't clear, if you suffer from a B12 deficiency, you may lack sufficient SAMe in your body. New York University's Langone Medical Center reports that several double-blind studies show promise for the use of supplemental SAMe in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Though most of these studies involved injectable or intravenous SAMe, one study of 44 fibromyalgia sufferers found that those who took 800 mg of SAMe daily for six weeks reported decreased pain and improved mood.
- "Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology"; Increased Concentration of Homocysteine in the Cerebrospinal Fluid in Patients With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; B. Regland, et. al.; 1997
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fibromyalgia
- FightingFatigue.org; Vitamin B-12 and It's Relationship to CFS and Fibromyalgia; Sandy Robinson; March 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B12
- New York University Langone Medical Center; S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe); May 2011