Giving You Back YOUR Life

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Overview - B12 deficiency affects the hormones

The human body is fascinating.  Not only do we have the chemicals at the end of nerves, to transmit the signal from one nerve to the next (over very short distances, for speed), but we also have hormones which go around the whole body.

The brain talks to the thalamus and says "get ready for action" (very short signal).  The thalamus sends a message to the hypothalamus "action needed for the next few minutes".  The hypothalamus says to the pituitary "going to need adrenalin and testosterone at such and such a level" and the pituitary checks current levels in the blood and if it's too low, sends a signal to the endocrine organs to produce more of the needed hormones.  

The pituitary keeps the hormones in the blood at the required levels, whilst periodically checking up the chain back to the brain to make sure they are needed.

Oh, and the thalamus and hypothalamus work on regular hormones too - growth hormones to manage the right amount of growth, sex hormones to change the body at the right times, monthly cycles, daily cycles.

Put simply, there's a lot to go wrong.

When you are hit with B12 deficiency, the likely damaged part in this whole chain of affairs is the pituitary.  It has proteins poking through the membrane of the cells that are bathed in blood rushing past, which sample for levels of each hormone.  If the membrane is damaged (as it often is with B12 deficiency) then the protein probes will be pointing in the wrong direction.  This usually means that they report back that there's enough hormone in the blood even when there might not be, so mostly people are hypo- or under producing.  It can happen the other way, where the pituitary thinks that there's more than there actually is.

Let's look at a couple of common examples:

Hypothyroidism

low levels of thyroid hormone lead to low energy and stunted growth.  Low levels can be caused either because the thyroid gland isn't able to produce enough thyroxine even though it's being told to produce more (with TSH - or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) - known as Primary hypothyroidism, or because the signal from the pituitary gland never comes, so the thyroid gland is doing what it should but there's no signal to produce the amount the body needs - known as Secondary hypothyroidism.

Primary hypothyroidism can be caused by a number of factors and it's rarely anything to do with B12 deficiency.

So we're mainly concerned with a diagnosis of secondary hypothyroidism or low TSH but normal thyroid response to stimulation.  This is where B12 can help.

Hypoadrenalism or Adrenal Insufficiency

The adrenal cortex produces Cortisol, the daily cycle hormone.  This is the one that wakes you up in the morning and lets you sleep at night.  Low cortisol can leave you constantly tired and yet unable to get to sleep because you haven't done anything all day.

Again, primary hypoadrenalism (the adrenal cortex inability to produce cortisol when the pituitary gland tells it to) is caused by some diseases and some auto-immune conditions.  We're more interested in secondary hypoadrenalism where the ACTH isn't being produced but when it is produced, the adrenal cortex responds normally by producing cortisol.

You can download Dr Chandy's protocol for diagnosing hypoadrenalism from here 

Hypoadrenalism download link

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Frankie tells of how she suffered, the tests she had to endure until doctors worked out what was wrong, and what a difference it has made.
The local MP (Grahame Morris MP for Easington - who was a BMS (BioMedical Scientist) in the labs at Sunderland Royal Infirmary) interviews people with B12 deficiency to hear their story (August 27 2010). Here Jane describes the symptoms, and how she can't wait for her next B12 injection (in fact, she knows that she needs injections every 2 weeks because she's keeping a diary of the symptoms). We're restricted how often the GP can give injections, which is why we want to raise awareness.
Janette first appeared in the BBC InsideOut documentary in October 2006. Since then the NHS has forced her doctor to withdraw B12 replacement therapy on a number of occasions, and she tells of her struggles with having B12 and then having it taken away.
She has bravely agreed to be filmed without her usual wig, but her memory is playing up because it is so long since her last injection.
The Scottish Parliament discusses Pernicious Anaemia and vitamin B12 deficiency on Wednesday 7 March 2012.
This video is over 1 hour long and represents real political change - we are at last on our way.
June describes her suffering when doctors didn't follow the standard protocol after any stomach or intestinal operation - to offer B12 replacement therapy
Just the way it works for humans, oral B12 can make a world of a difference for your pet. My old cat Smudge chases the young cat again, climbs ladders (and climbs down herself), and is generally as fit as she was many years ago.
New documentary out from Elissa Leonard in North America, featuring Sally Pacholok and many other internationally renowned experts.
The definitive and original guide to B12 deficiency, Dr Chandy interviewed by Chris Jackson of UK BBC Inside Out Team broadcast 31 Oct 2008.
Dr Joseph Chandy explains symptoms and shows the restorative effect on one patient (other patients' families have asked that we edit out their stories unfortunately)
Donna, like so many women, wants to live a normal life. Vitamin B12 could give her that chance.
Dr Chandy was nominated for the North East Local Heroes award. The interviewer was at first surprised - people don't get awards for doing what they are paid to do - but she persisted.