New Study Connects Low Brain B12 to Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia

Brain isolated on a white backgrounds

A new study published in PLOS ONE has been able to correlate low vitamin B12 levels in the brain with age, autism and schizophrenia. The researchers collected postmortem brain samples from 43 control subjects ranging in age from 19 weeks of gestation to 80 years, as well as 12 autistic subjects (4-9 years of age) and nine schizophrenic subjects (36-49 years of age).

The samples were tested for five species of vitamin B12, demonstrating combined levels that were 2.7-fold lower in 61-80 year old subjects than those under 20. Methylcobalamin, the predominant form of vitamin B12 in younger people, accounted for the greatest disparity across lifespan with 12.4-fold lower levels in the oldest age bracket. Autistic subjects had 3.1-fold lower total B12 levels compared to age-matched controls, matching B12 levels of control subjects over the age of 50. Schizophrenic subjects had a 3.3-fold lower level of total B12 compared to control.

Because serum vitamin B12 does not show a similar decrease with age or deficit in autistic individuals, the study further suggests that vitamin B12 in the brain compartment is distinctly regulated from the rest of the body.

“To our knowledge, this is the first report of pathologically reduced levels of active Cbl [B12] species in autistic and schizophrenic brain,” said the authors. “Although the number of brain samples analyzed was limited, our findings highlight a possible role for vitamin B12-dependent methylation reactions in brain function and in the etiology of neurological disorders.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online 2/12/2016