Long COVID Treatment – Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and other vital nutrients

Long COVID and COVID Long Haulers

COVID has gripped many lives for more than a year now and in some countries, people with Long COVID are lucky enough to be treated with essential nutrients which the virus appears to deplete or to exacerbate a latent deficiency. 

So many are writing about this and I wanted to collect together some of these texts for those unaware of a potential way back to full health.

 

The UK

Unfortunately many people in the UK with Long COVID may only be accessing the following treatments: aspirin, steroids, antivirals, antibiotics, and anti inflammatories as detailed on the Patient info website.

This BBC news clip on the effects of #longCOVID (and the following two) feature: Dr Nathalie Mac Dermott, Louise Buxton and Sarah Wakefield, who may benefit from the information within this blog, so if you know them, please share.

You will see that the symptoms of B12 deficiency (and other nutrient deficiencies) and Long COVID very much overlap:

Long-term COVID-19 Symptoms in a Large Un-selected Population.

“The long-term symptoms most enriched in those with COVID-19 are anosmia, ageusia, difficulty concentrating, dyspnea, memory loss, confusion, headache, heart palpitations, chest pain, pain with deep breaths, dizziness, and tachycardia.” 

In my April blog it was also highlighted that B12 could be of help in treating COVID and since then more information has been gathered.

I hope the following offers an added pathway back to health for those experiencing the debilitating effects of Long COVID.

New to Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

If you read the following documents and feel that B12 deficiency could be affecting you, then if possible, please try not to supplement with B12 before testing. Then please see this crash course for more info on how to diagnose and treat B12 deficiency.

You may need B12 injections if you cannot absorb B12 from food and even very low dose B12 tablets can raise serum B12 levels to be ‘within range’ which may skew results and stop you accessing the treatment you need. Some countries allow purchase of injectable B12 from pharmacies but for those in countries like the UK that currently don’t allow this (which we want to change) then you may need a doctor to diagnose and then treat you with injections.

If you have already tried oral B12 supplements but your symptoms haven’t improved, make sure you ask for testing and let the doctor know to make sure the lab note that you have been taking B12. Do not wait to be clear of supplements for 4 months, there is absolutely no point in wasting time!

It’s key that your doctor understands that a within range result, coupled with symptoms should not be ignored as the clinical picture is of utmost importance. Make sure you get to see a copy of your results – you are legally entitled to them.

 

In the UK the NHS stated that Long COVID sufferers would be offered help at specialist centres:

Respiratory consultants, physiotherapists, other specialists and GPs will all help assess, diagnose and treat thousands of sufferers who have reported symptoms ranging from breathlessness, chronic fatigue, “brain fog”, anxiety and stress.

Perhaps NHS England and Professor Chris Brightling would benefit from the information in this blog?


Hypotheses and articles on Long COVID treatment 

 

Sally Pacholok

Undiagnosed Cobalamin Deficiency in the Face of COVID-19:  An unrecognized Comorbidity and Silent killer.

“People with undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency may be at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. Not only does low B12 suppress one’s immune system making it harder to fend off infection and produce antibodies, but B12 deficiency also causes hyperhomocysteinemia, which in turn can cause dangerous blood clots (i.e. deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and myocardial infarction).”

Dr Albert Mir

Please see Dr Albert Mir’s Hypothesis Jan 2021 version –
COVID-19 and vitamin B12. An important warning for the population.                          

COVID-19’s toll on the elderly and those with diabetes mellitus – Is vitamin B12 deficiency an accomplice?

“…The question on hand thus lies on whether managing B12 deficiencies will impact COVID-19 fatality outcome or recovery rates. Herein, we review the latest evidence that shows that B12 deficiency associates in multiple areas very similar to where COVID-19 exerts its damaging effects: immunologically; microbiologically; haematologically; and through endothelial cell signalling—supporting the hypothesis that B12 deficiency is a potential modifiable risk factor in our fight against COVID-19.”

Be well: A potential role for Vitamin B in COVID-19

“There is a need to highlight the importance of vitamin B because it plays a pivotal role in cell functioning, energy metabolism, and proper immune function []. Vitamin B assists in proper activation of both the innate and adaptive immune responses, reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, improves respiratory function, maintains endothelial integrity, prevents hypercoagulability and can reduce the length of stay in hospital [,]. Therefore, vitamin B status should be assessed in COVID-19 patients and vitamin B could be used as a non-pharmaceutical adjunct to current treatments.”

Vitamin b12 Deficiency in Covid-19 Recovered Patients: Case Report.

“The link between immunity and nourishment is clearly known and special attention is being given to its role in the COVID-19 disease Vitamin B12 is one of the dietary requirements necessary in the treatment of coronavirus patients Coronavirus patients often show clinical symptoms, such as fever, cough, respiratory distress syndrome, gastrointestinal infection, and fatigue It is sensible to suppose that COVID-19 affects cobalamin metabolism, impairs intestinal microbial proliferation, and contributes to symptoms of cobalamin deficiency Such an assumption is based on the fact that there are signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency that are similar to those of a coronavirus infection Based on these observations, it can be inferred that treatment with vitamin B12 can be useful in the recovery of COVID-19 patient.”       

A potential Role for Vitamin B in COVID-19.

“However, SARS-CoV-2 could interfere with vitamin B12 metabolism, thus impairing intestinal microbial proliferation. Given that, it is plausible that symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are close to COVID-19 infection such as elevated oxidative stress and lactate dehydrogenase, hyperhomocysteinemia, coagulation cascade activation, vasoconstriction and renal and pulmonary vasculopathy. In addition, B12 deficiency can result in disorders of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Surprisingly, a recent study showed that methylcobalamin supplements have the potential to reduce COVID-19-related organ damage and symptoms.”                                                                                                                                                      

ERYTHROCYTES AS A TARGET OF SARS COV-2 IN PATHOGENESIS OF COVID-19

“Hemolytic anemia in COVID-19, which develops at the first stage as a reaction to the SARS COV-2 viral microorganisms, causes cascading reactions to toxic erythropoietin and hemoglobin released from erythrocytes in the bloodstream, and then to hemosiderin released due to the death of erythrocytes in the tissue. The process ends with a decrease in the synthesis of erythropoietin in the decaying liver and kidneys, in the absence of the necessary vitamin B12 due to the pathology of its secretion in the gastrointestinal tract. The characteristic signs of damage to red blood cells in conditions of infection with COVID-19 indicate disruption of erythropoiesis, with developing iron deficiency and B12 anemia.”   

Homocysteine as a Potential Predictor of Cardiovascular Risk in Patients with COVID-19.

“Since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the scientific community is in urgent need for reliable biomarkers related to disease progression, in order to early identify high risk patients. In fact, the rapid disease spread makes it necessary to divide patients in risk categories immediately after diagnosis, to ensure an optimal resource allocation. The identification of new biomarkers is strictly related to the understanding of viral pathogenetic mechanisms, as well as cellular and organ damage. Trustworthy biomarkers would be helpful for screening, clinical management and prevention of serious complications.” 

Can Vitamin B12 be an Adjuvant to COVID-19 treatment? 

“COVID-19 has  become an international pandemic and is causing a  worldwide public health emergency; therefore, an effective treatment is urgently needed. The hypothesis is that Covid virus interferes with the cobalamin metabolism, causing  symptoms  of cobalamin deficiency.  This is  plausible to  infer,  because there  are symptoms  of vitamin  B12 deficiency  that  are similar  to  those of  COVID-19. These symptoms  include increase oxidative  stress, homocysteine concentration, activation of the  coagulation  cascade, thrombocytopenia, elevated lactate  dehydrogenase  (LDH), low reticulocyte count, intravascular coagulation thrombosis, vasoconstriction, renal and pulmonary vasculopathies, which can result in respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system  disorders.  Research  shows  that  high doses of methylcobalamin  is the  treatment for  symptoms  of vitamin  B12 deficiency.  Thus, an  additional hypothesis  is that treatment with vitamin B12, especially methylcobalamin, would reduce Covid’s damage to infected patients. Hence, in this  review  article  it  is  suggested  that  methylcobalamin  (vitamin  B12)  may  serve  as  an  attenuator  to  COVID-19symptoms. Clinical studies are required to confirm this hypothesis.”                                                                                              

COVID19, COBALAMIN / B12 AND SEPSIS: A LEFT OF FIELD SOLUTION

“High dose parenteral Cobalamin as prophylaxis and treatment for Covid19 and Sepsis/ARDS.”                                                                                                                                        

Homocysteine and the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus – The X Factor of Severe Disease and Death.

“Homocysteine (Hcy) is a natural, non-essential amino acid formed by the de-methylation of methionine. Pathologic elevations occur in many chronic conditions, particularly the cardiovascular conditions common with aging, and in SARS-Cov2. The most common co-existing morbidities, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are all strongly associated with elevated levels of Homocysteine.”
    

Vitamin C, D, Folate (B9), magnesium, zinc etc.

Jerome Burne’s blog 12 Dec 2020  Pressure rises for Vitamin supplements to protect against the virus.

“For almost a year now the government and the NHS have been studiously ignoring the possibility that a highly plausible way of effectively combating the virus would be to ensure that everyone, especially those most exposed to it, had adequate levels of the nutrients vital for a well-functioning immune system, such as Vitamin D, Vitamin C, zinc and selenium. Now suddenly three things that might just make a difference, have all happened at once…”

And the following papers:

Possible Treatments for Covid-19 or LongCovid.

Topic: Which vitamins, minerals, and health supplements might help people who have suffered from Covid-19 and its aftermath for too long?                       

SARS-Cov-2/Covid/19 ADULT RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME /ARDS: HIGH DOSE IV METHYLCOBALAMIN IS A SAFE & COST EFFECTIVE RESCUE TREATMENT for ARDS

“Abstract -A SAFE AND EFFICACIOUS PROPHYLACTIC /TREATMENT FOR COVID19, TO PREVENT AND TREAT ACUTE RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME, ALREADY EXISTS: RESPECTIVELY using HIGH DOSE IM AND IV METHYLCOBALAMIN FORM OF VITAMIN B12. The hydroxocobalamin form of B12 has been used in ICUs in France, Italy and China for nearly 70 years, as the anti-CN antidote of choice. It is safe, licensed and available. Methylcobalamin would be preferable, for a number of research based reasons. But both could be life savers in the current health crisis.”                                                           

The Role of Folic Acid in the Management of Respiratory Disease Caused by COVID-19.

“Entrance of coronavirus into cells happens through the spike proteins on the virus surface, for which the spike protein should be cleaved into S1 and S2 domains. This cleavage is mediated by furin, which can specifically cleave Arg-X-X-Arg sites of the substrates. Furin, a member of proprotein convertases family, is moved from the trans-Golgi network to the cell membrane and activates many precursor proteins. A number of pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and viral infectious diseases, are linked with the impaired activity of this enzyme. Despite the urgent need to control COVID-19, no approved treatment is currently known. Here, folic acid (folate), a water-soluble B vitamin, is introduced for the first time for the inhibition of furin activity. As such, folic acid, as a safe drug, may help to prevent or alleviate the respiratory involvement associated with COVID-19.”

Virtual Screening and Repurposing of FDA Approved Drugs Against COVID-19 Main Protease.

“The present study provided a comprehensive targeting of the first resolved COVID+19 structure of Mpro and found a suitable save drugs for repurposing against the viral Mpro. Ribavirin, telbivudine, vitamin B12 and nicotinamide can be combined and used for COVID treatment. This initiative relocates already marketed and approved safe drugs for potential use in COVID-treatment.”                                                                                                                                   

Clinical Trials are Proving that Vitamin D fights COVID-19 in Hospitals.    

Open Access Review Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity.

“Vitamin D deficiency co-exists in patients with COVID-19. At this time, dark skin color, increased age, the presence of pre-existing illnesses and vitamin D deficiency are features of severe COVID disease. Of these, only vitamin D deficiency is modifiable. Through its interactions with a multitude of cells, vitamin D may have several ways to reduce the risk of acute respiratory tract infections and COVID-19: reducing the survival and replication of viruses, reducing risk of inflammatory cytokine production, increasing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 concentrations, and maintaining endothelial integrity. Fourteen observational studies offer evidence that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations are inversely correlated with the incidence or severity of COVID-19. The evidence to date generally satisfies Hill’s criteria for causality in a biological system, namely, strength of association, consistency, temporality, biological gradient, plausibility (e.g., mechanisms), and coherence, although experimental verification is lacking. Thus, the evidence seems strong enough that people and physicians can use or recommend vitamin D supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19 in light of their safety and wide therapeutic window. In view of public health policy, however, results of large-scale vitamin D randomized controlled trials are required and are currently in progress.”                                                                  

Casting Sunlight on an Epidemic   Is vitamin D a critical host factor to prevent COVID-19?

“Some people will experience minimal effects from COVID-19 because their immune system can efficiently fight off the infection. The “host” factors that promote such a strong immune system were extensively studied before the age of antibiotics, and without an effective vaccine, they should be an important part of today’s response to the epidemic. Host factors that are often considered include vitamins (e.g., A and C), minerals (e.g., zinc and magnesium), and the omega-3 fatty acids. Of these, perhaps the most studied and most important host factor impacting survival from COVID-19 is vitamin D, created in skin from exposure to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight.”                                                                              https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/85596

Vitamin D is the Solution to the Covid-19 Second Wave.

“What is causing the Second Wave? Vitamin D blood levels are seasonal; they rise and fall from one season to another. In summer, vitamin D levels are higher because people are out in the sunshine. When sunshine (specifically UV-B) strikes the skin, the body makes vitamin D. But as people spend more time indoors, in autumn and winter, vitamin D blood levels fall. The levels decrease from late September to October to November, and they reach their lowest extent in December through March.”                                                                               

Role of Vitamin D in Preventing of COVID-19 Infection, Progression and Severity.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a global public health crisis. Little is known about the protective factors of this infection. Therefore, preventive health measures that can reduce the risk of infection, progression and severity are desperately needed. This review discussed the possible roles of  vitamin D in reducing the risk of COVID-19 and other acute respiratory tract infections and severity.”                                                                                    

Immune-boosting Role of Vitamins D, C, E, Zinc, Selenium and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Could they Help Against COVID-19?

“Recent evidence has highlighted that nutritional supplementation could play a supportive role in COVID-19 patients. Administration of higher than recommended daily doses of nutrients such as vitamins D, C, E, Zinc and omega-3 fatty acids might have a beneficial effect, potentially reducing SARS-CoV-2 viral load and length of hospitalization . These nutrients are well-known for their antioxidant properties and immunomodulatory effects. Deficiencies in these nutrients can result in immune dysfunction, and increase susceptibility to pathological infection. In fact, dietary insufficiency of vitamins and minerals has been observed in high-risk groups of COVID-19 patients, such as the elderly, increasing the morbidity and risk of mortality  It is well known that the elderly are more likely to be nutrient deficient and to have compromised immunity via immuno-senescence, significantly increasing their risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, and making adequate nutrition doubly important. The role of vitamins D, C, E, Zinc, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids in immunity, their status in patient infected by SARS-CoV-2 and their potential therapeutic role are discussed.”                                                                                                      

Nutrition, immunity and COVID-19.

“Vitamins B6 and B12 and folate all support the activity of natural killer cells and CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes, effects which would be important in antiviral defence. Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency had low blood numbers of CD8+ T lymphocytes and low natural killer cell activity.”                                                                                                                                

Nutritional Status of Patients with COVID-19.

“Nutrients play a vital role in the defense against infectious diseases and the regulation of inflammation; however, little is known with regards to COVID-19.

We measured concentrations of vitamins B1, B6, B12, folate, vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D), selenium, and zinc in 50 patients with COVID-19. Vitamin D deficiency was shown in 76% of patients and selenium deficiency in 42%. There was a significant difference compared to a control group of 150 people (vitamin D deficiency 43.3%). Among 12 patients with respiratory distress, 11 (91.7%) had one or more nutrient deficiency.”                                                                                                                                    

Combating COVID-19 and Building Immune Resilience: A Potential Role for Magnesium Nutrition? 

“In December 2019, the viral pandemic of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 began sweeping its way across the globe. Several aspects of this infectious disease mimic metabolic events shown to occur during latent subclinical magnesium deficiency. Hypomagnesemia is a relatively common clinical occurrence that often goes unrecognized since magnesium levels are rarely monitored in the clinical setting. Magnesium is the second most abundant intracellular cation after potassium. It is involved in >600 enzymatic reactions in the body, including those contributing to the exaggerated immune and inflammatory responses exhibited by COVID-19 patients.”                          

A Cohort Study to Evaluate the Effect of Combination Vitamin D, Magnesium and Vitamin B12 (DMB) on Progression to Severe Outcome in Older COVID-19 Patients.

“Objective: To determine the clinical outcomes of older COVID-19 patients who received DMB compared to those who did not. We hypothesized that fewer patients administered 2DMB would require oxygen therapy and/or intensive care support than those who did not.”

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There are many more documents, papers and articles on nutrient deficiencies and COVID treatment and I hope this blog helps with your personal research and pathway to recovery.

I you wish to add any other articles to the comments please do, I would love to hear from you.

Kindness always

Tracey x

www.b12deficiency.info

Do you want to help make B12 injections available OTC from Pharmacies in the UK?

 

 

COVID 19 is leaving B12 deficient patients unprotected & traumatised….

Gradually, everything that was remotely protective for B12 deficient patients appears to be being deleted, eroded and changed to suit those who seem intent on switching us permanently to tablets which won’t help to repair nerves.

B12 supports the immune system, it is vital for life, injections are required to keep those of us who cannot absorb B12 from food well and functioning. The WHO list hydroxocobalamin as an essential medicine. Humans simply cannot live without it and should not be forced to, but that’s what’s happening now.

Those having injections regularly cannot absorb B12 from food, it is not dietary lack that brought them to their knees it was one of the other many causes of B12 deficiency.

Many are terrified to challenge their GP’s, many who have asked to be allowed to self inject have been ignored. Nurses are calling patients for their agreement to permanently switch their future treatment to tablets only. This must be resisted at all costs, see why below. Patients are already traumatised by COVID, separated from their loved ones and then have to deal without vital treatment because of a distinct lack of understanding of this very common and commonly misdiagnosed condition.

Things are changing day by day and there is no one sensible source of information for our GP’s. Some patients have had letters stating the GP’s are following advice from Public Health England, NHS England, CCG’s, etc and some even say ‘advice from Europe’.

 

The situation is an absolute disaster and needs sorting fast.

Patients need vital injections

Patients can be taught to give injections, we can be trusted, we are adults

Patients can then function, can do their Key work, can look after their families, can maintain mobility, can reduce pain levels and keep mental health problems at bay.

The BMA (British Medical Association) March

In March the BMA produced a traffic light workload prioritisation table for the RCGP.

Stating:
………Past experience has shown that patients will die from non-COVID-19 related illnesses in addition to COVID-19 itself as we divert all of our health care resources towards it (1). General Practice has a huge role to play in maintaining the underlying health of our population in an attempt to prevent this. It is vital that we continue to provide care to all patients if we have the capacity, with workloads stratified to ensure that those at greatest need are prioritised.”

It uses the following headings:

GREEN – CONTINUE      AMBER – IF POSSIBLE       RED – STOP

B12 injections are under Amber as follows;

“Vitamin B12 injections – consider teaching appropriate patients to self-administer and ensure frequency is not more than 12 weekly”

(Not more than 12 weekly eh? That’s not what NICE say – see below!).

BMA April

B12 injections have since been downgraded by the BMA and the headings have been changed, only a few are now considered “Medium Priority” as of April the 10th 2020.

Amber – Medium Priority

“Vitamin B12 injections for post bariatric surgery patients – consider teaching appropriate patients to self-administer and ensure frequency is not more than 12 weekly. Review whether oral supplementation would be appropriate”.

Red – Lower Priority

“Vitamin B12 injections – consider teaching appropriate patients to self-administer and ensure frequency is not more than 12 weekly. Review whether oral supplementation would be appropriate if asymptomatic with a dietary deficiency ” BMJ 2019 https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l1865

The question is, why during this crisis, isn’t our immunity boosting, life saving vitamin injection for people who can’t absorb B12 from food in the Green band? It simply doesn’t make any sense.

This is what NICE CKS states, that if B12 deficiency is;

Not thought to be diet related — administer hydroxocobalamin 1 mg intramuscularly every 2–3 months for life.
Thought to be diet related — advise people either to take oral cyanocobalamin tablets 50–150 micrograms daily between meals, or have a twice-yearly hydroxocobalamin 1 mg injection.

British Society for Haematology (BSH) is moving goal posts; 

BSH advice during the COVID19 pandemic now decide that those of us who rely on B12 injections can now access our non existent liver stores, here’s an excerpt below;

Liver stores last for a year and hence levels of B12 will not be affected if one to two 3 monthly injection is omitted in patients on maintenance parenteral  B12 supplements.  BSH supports omitting B12 injections even in this group during COVID19 outbreak at least until the surge has passed.

For patients who report symptoms in the weeks  preceding B12 injection, oral B12 50-150 micrograms per day can be offered as an alternative because there will still be sufficient absorption.  If still very symptomatic then B12 injection can be given with clear understanding that the interaction with healthcare increases transmission risk of COVID19. We suggest taking the opportunity to measure B12.

FAO/WHO 2001. Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements. Chapter 5.
“…..Interruption of this so-called enterohepatic circulation of vitamin B12 causes the body to go into a significant negative balance for the vitamin. Although the body typically has sufficient vitamin B12 stores to last 3-5 years, once PA has been established the lack of absorption of new vitamin B12 is compounded by the loss of the vitamin because of negative balance. When the stores have been depleted, the final stages of deficiency are often quite rapid, resulting in death in a period of months if left untreated.” 

 

Oral B12 research 

Patients during the crisis are now regularly told that they can in fact absorb B12 from cyanocobalamin tablets and yet:

A review from Cochrane; (Wang et al., 2018) details this: …… 

No study reported on clinical signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency (e.g. fatigue, depression, neurological complications), health-related quality of life, or acceptability of the treatment scheme.”

Authors’ conclusions:  “Low quality evidence shows oral and IM vitamin B12 having similar effects in terms of normalising serum vitamin B12 levels, but oral treatment costs less.  We found very low-quality evidence that oral vitamin B12 appears as safe as IM vitamin B12.  Further trials should conduct better randomisation and blinding procedures, recruit more participants, and provide adequate reporting.  Future trials should also measure important outcomes such as the clinical signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, health related-quality of life, socioeconomic effects, and report adverse events adequately, preferably in a primary care setting.

The Difficulties With Vitamin B12

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27009308/?i=5&from=b12

A 22-year-old woman presented with progressive sensory ataxia and optic neuropathy. Previous investigation by her general practitioner had found a low serum vitamin B12, which had been corrected with oral supplementation. Neurological investigations showed raised plasma homocysteine and methylmalonic acid towards the upper limit of normal with a low serum vitamin B12 MRI showed an extensive cord lesion in keeping with subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord. We treated her with high dose parenteral vitamin B12 and she has made a partial recovery. We discuss the management of patients who present with neurological manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency; highlighting the fact that parenteral replacement is needed in such cases, even if the serum vitamin B12 level appears to be normal. We also discuss ancillary investigations that should be performed in patients with suspected vitamin B12 deficiency.

Caution note from the B12 institute about oral supplements .

____________________________________

Everyone making the rules is watching the smoke but not one is seeing the fire…..

People in crisis sometimes make bad decisions and stopping B12 injections is one of them, it’s short sighted and harmful and there will be a price to pay if things don’t change soon.

A simple solution would be to allow us to buy injectable B12 OTC as is allowed in many other countries, which leads me to my next blog.

Best wishes and keep safe
Tracey

www.b12deficiency.info

(Thank you Dr Katie Brooks for finding WHO ref)

‘The tank’s empty but I can smell petrol so you have 90 days more driving ahead of you’ …..

If this advice were given by a garage we’d know they were kidding –  but a similar instruction is given in the UK to too many B12 deficient patients regarding their treatment.

NICE and BNF Guidelines advocate a maintenance dose for patients with neurological symptoms is one injection every two months. This is very often ignored and a move straight to a three monthly maintenance dose (after a 6 injection loading dose), is the norm. This is based on NO CLINICAL EVIDENCE whatsoever yet it appears to be set in stone.

I have spent quite some time trying to find the research for the bizarre idea that four B12 injections per year as a maintenance dose is ‘optimal treatment’, since this restricted regime harms those who are in dire need of a nutrient their systems are starved of. The term ‘optimal treatment’ is used to describe our quarterly maintenance dose in a series of GP audits which I blogged about earlier this year.
It was decided that district nurses time could be saved by lessening the frequency of B12 injections given, so this was eventually adopted nationally without any care for the patient. Our UK maintenance dose guidelines are based on cash saving exercises.

At the end of this blog post are the replies I have from various agencies; NHS England, Public Health England, Health Select Committee, British National Formulary, NICE, to the question;

“Please can you show me the clinical evidence which states that the three monthly maintenance dosage for B12 deficiency is optimal treatment.”

You will see that everybody addressed passes the buck and thinks that someone else has this elusive information which so many doctors adhere to. The emails take a circular route which, of course, yield no result whatsoever since there is no clinical evidence.

In a letter to my MP, Sir Bruce Keogh of NHS England stated “Most patients respond well to quarterly injections”, but where is his source?

It’s quite obvious that a great many patients do extremely badly on 3 monthly injections. Patients who email me with the subject line; ’Desperate’, ‘please help’ or ‘Am I going mad?’  And the 1000’s of members of online support groups are also testament to this.

A serum B12 level can show as ‘within range’ for weeks or even months after a single B12 injection or even a single oral supplement.  This can fool doctors into thinking there is plenty of B12 circulating and available to draw upon when, in reality, there isn’t any B12 available to the patient.

If you want to understand the complexities of B12 deficiency then this document on the enterohepatic circulation of B12 will help.

This is what Kevin Byrne (author of the above) states –

“The problem arises when you start to believe that the damage accruing from a long term deteriorative process can be fixed with a handful of injections, and when you take serum levels as a direct measure of the functioning of a distant, complex organic process.”

Many clinicians do not understand that;

• When a B12 injection is given, the majority is excreted via the bladder & bowel within 24 hours.
• B12 is water-soluble, non toxic & costs pennies.
• Progression of nerve damage is inevitable in patients who are starved of B12.
• B12 is vital for life, is required to produce healthy red blood cells and for DNA synthesis.

Both patients and clinicians are being led up the garden path;

The vast majority of GP’s are not fully educated on this very common, debilitating condition and they think they are advising patients correctly based on the limited information they were taught.

There are enlightened doctors who know that 3 monthly injections are a tortuous proposition for many patients they see and they treat appropriately by symptoms.

Worryingly there are also doctors who are informed, who want to treat patients appropriately but feel their hands are tied, either by their colleagues or by even more restrictive ’practice guidelines’ which appear to take precedence over National Guidelines. Or, these doctors are terrified of being reported to the GMC for ‘unusual prescribing’, quite bizarre when what we are discussing is a non toxic essential vitamin.

Evidence of this clinical evidence is nowhere to be found, It simply does not exist. It is a myth generated to save time and money and has had the opposite effect, costing the NHS and in turn society, millions if not billions of pounds. This is due to the inevitable misdiagnoses that occur when doctors fail to understand that four injections a year will never be enough to heal damaged nerves in many patients.

Trying to put a forest fire out with a teaspoon of water would be just as futile.

What other group of patients with a serious debilitating condition would be subjected to the same illogical and harmful treatment regime?

Whilst the vast majority of clinicians lack up to date knowledge of B12 deficiency & whilst treatment of this condition remains so illogically and harmfully restrictive, it becomes even more essential for patients to be able to access injectable B12 over the counter in the UK.

Patients don’t want more injections than they need, they just want to be able to function and get on with life. It is time once again, to shine a very bright light on exactly why UK patients are kept chronically ill and unable to work on this ridiculously low frequency, based on no clinical evidence whatsoever.

If you are in the UK, you can help by sharing this information with your MP and by asking them to contact my MP, Nicky Morgan (nicky.morgan.mp@parliament.uk) so that they can work together on this urgent issue.

Many thanks Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

Emails below;

To: Health Committee <HEALTHCOM@parliament.uk> (Dr Sarah Wollaston)
Subject: Re: Clinical evidence for B12 treatment

Dear Victoria

Thank you for your email and the link. However you misunderstood my question. I am asking for “clinical evidence” not “clinical guidelines”.
Please can you point me in the direction of the clinical evidence that states that a three monthly maintenance dose of a 1ml b12 injection is optimal treatment for B12 deficiency? I recall Sarah stating to one of her constituents that she is aware of this evidence.

Best wishes
Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

Health Select committee (Dr Sarah Wollaston)

<HEALTHCOM@parliament.uk> wrote:

Dear Tracey

I have asked Sarah’s office but unfortunately between us all we can’t track this information, you will need to contact NHS England/Department of Health.

Sorry I couldn’t help.

Best wishes

Victoria

Public Health England;

Hi

Thanks for your email to Public Health England. This falls outside our remit, however we are unsure who you should approach. It might be something NHS England can help you with.

Regards

PHE Enquiries.

NHS England:

Dear Tracey

Thank you for your email of 8 August within which you requested information about the clinical evidence regarding the two and three monthly maintenance doses for B12 deficiency.

NHS England is unable to advise regarding this matter and it is recommended you contact National Institute for health and Care Excellence. Contact details are available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance
Further information regarding B!2 can be reviewed at: https://www.nice.org.uk/search?q=b12

I am sorry I am unable to assist you further and trust the information above is sufficient to progress your enquiry.

NICE;
(Please note I cut a whole load of this enormous email out to save you falling asleep – It was the text from the page highlighted)

Dear Tracey

Thank you for contacting NICE.

NICE produces a range of guidance and information products, including clinical guidelines, which are recommendations on how healthcare and other professionals should care for people with specific conditions. Our clinical guideline topics are referred to us by the NHS England. I can confirm that we have not been asked to develop a guideline relating to the care of people with B12 deficiency.

I believe that the resource that you have located is clinical knowledge summary (CKS) on Anaemia – B12 and folate deficiency. CKS are developed by an external company and we work with the publisher to make them available on the NICE Evidence Services website, as a source of advice for health professionals working in primary care, while they may refer to NICE guidance (if there is any that is relevant), they also use many other sources. It is important to note that they do not constitute NICE guidance.

The evidence behind the recommendations in the CKS is presented underneath the recommendations under a subheading ‘Basis for recommendation’. I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards
Janet

(I didn’t find it helpful obviously, they point towards lots of journals who don’t have the evidence we require and to the BNF; here is their response below; )

BNF British National Formulary

Thank you for your email to BNF Publications.

Unfortunately we are unable to access our archives to check what evidence base was used to determine the 3 monthly dosage of hydroxocobalamin.

BNF content will be reviewed in line with the SPCs for future updates of the BNF.

Kind regards,

BNF Publications

You will see from my previous blog on this subject that I also asked all the Marketing Authorisation holders  who provide injectable B12 in the UK where their evidence for the three monthly maintenance dose came from and each of them drew a blank too.

http://www.b12deficiency.info/blog/2016/02/16/uk-b12-deficient-patients-paltry-3-monthly-maintenance-dose-of-b12-injections-is-based-on-cash-not-care/