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B Vitamins and Dopamine

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This question is for my 63 year old mom diagnosed with Parkinsons 13 years ago.  She has been a vegetarian for the past 8 years.


1.  We heard from my mom's doctor that vitamin B (B6, B12...etc) will greatly reduce the amount of dopamine in the brain - is this true?  The doctor suggested that she stops taking the vitamin B supplements (she is taking them because she is a vegetarian).

2.  If the above is true - is it true for both vitamin pills as well as natural B vitamin found in food?

3.  How would you recommend that my mom gets her dose of vitamin B?

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I am not absolutely sure where this physician got his information from, so I checked every possible piece of reference material I have available to me including: reference books, Pharmacy books, books on neurological disorders and function, magazine articles, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and of cousins the internet. I only found 1 article that hinted that B vitamins may be detrimental in the brain of people with PD. This article was written by a non physician who only deals with holistic approach to the body. Below is a synopsis of what Vitamin B (all varieties) plus other vitamins and minerals @re good for PD.





Optimise your diet, reduce your toxic load


While the cause of Parkinson’s is not known, environmental toxins such as pesticides and herbicides are implicated. Researchers have found levels of these chemicals to be higher in the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers and incidence of Parkinson’s is higher in areas with greater use of these chemicals. It makes sense to avoid any environmental toxins that you can. Also, consider your intake of dietary toxins such as alcohol and caffeine – avoiding or reducing these may reduce the load on your body’s detoxification pathways.




Homocysteine is an amino acid which is toxic if elevated, and some studies have found that it is elevated in people with Parkinson’s. At this stage it isn’t known whether higher levels of homocysteine contribute to the development of Parkinson’s or whether the Parkinson’s (or Parkinson’s medications) contributes to higher levels of homocysteine, or both. Either way, reducing homocysteine to a healthy level is a good idea. The nutrients needed to reduce homocysteine include folic acid, vitamins B12 and B6, zinc and tri-methyl-glycine (TMG). Some of these nutrients are co-factors for dopamine production too.


Increase your omega-3 fats


The omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory which may be beneficial as neuro-inflammation is a feature of Parkinson’s. Mood problems are also a common feature and there has been a lot of research into the mood-boosting properties of the omega-3 essential fats. A small placebo-controlled pilot trial reported significantly greater improvement of depression in Parkinson’s patients treated with omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation versus placebo. The richest dietary source is from fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, pilchards and anchovies.


Vitamin D


Vitamin D is a hot topic for research since it was discovered that we have receptors for this vitamin in the brain, and that it enhances brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF – think of this as akin to a growth hormone for neurons), and is anti-inflammatory. This nutrient is mainly provided by the action of sunlight on the skin.


Up your magnesium


Magnesium is a mineral that acts as a natural relaxant. Some indications of deficiency are: muscle tremors or spasm, muscle weakness, insomnia or nervousness, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, constipation, hyperactivity, depression. Magnesium’s role in supporting good sleep may also be quite important here, since many pe



Amino acids and many of the B vitamins are needed to synthesize various neurotransmitters in the brain. In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, and the mineral zinc is needed for functioning of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, aspartate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Vitamins could possibly affect neurotransmitter binding to receptors on neurons, thereby altering neurotransmission.


Micronutrients may indirectly influence nerve impulse propagation by affecting the integrity of the myelin sheath of nerves. The myelin sheath, composed of lipids and proteins, surrounds and insulates nerve fibers and functions as a conduit in an electrical system, allowing for rapid and efficient neurotransmission. Two B vitamins, folate and vitamin B12, are needed to maintain the integrity of the myelin sheath; therefore, these vitamins are important in nerve impulse propagation. Additionally, the B vitamin thiamin is required for maintenance of membrane potential and proper conductance of nerves. Furthermore, iron is required for the development of oligodendrocytes—myelin-producing cells of the brain.


Vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12, as well as the nutrient choline, are involved in the metabolism and reduction of homocysteine, a sulfur-containing compound produced in the metabolism of the amino acid methionine. Some studies have linked elevated levels of homocysteine with cognitive dysfunction found in dementia and Alzheimer's disease.





Phosphorylated forms of thiamin (vitamin B1) are required for reactions involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and lipids, and one form of the vitamin has been implicated in membrane functions of neurons and in the generation of nerve impulses. Thus, inadequate intake of thiamin can negatively affect cognition. Severe thiamin deficiency causes beriberi; the dry and wet types of beriberi involve peripheral neuropathy, whereas cerebral beriberi can lead to cell death of neurons and the clinical conditions of Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's psychosis, especially in those who abuse alcohol.




Niacin (vitamin B3) is needed for a number of redox reactions (reduction—"electron gain",oxidation—"electron loss") and other reactions in the body. Severe niacin deficiency, known as pellagra, has been historically associated with poverty and consumption of a diet predominantly based on corn, which is low in bioavailable niacin. Today, the condition is uncommon but can occur in cases of chronic alcoholism and in individuals with malabsorption syndromes. Neurologic symptoms of pellagra include headache, fatigue, apathy, depression, ataxia, poor concentration, delusions, and hallucinations, which can lead to confusion, memory loss, psychosis, dementia, and death.


Pantothenic Acid


Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is needed for the oxidative metabolism of glucose and fats and also for synthesis of fats, cholesterol, steroid hormones, the hormone melatonin, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Pantothenic acid deficiency is very rare and has been observed only in cases of severe malnutrition. However, deficiency of this vitamin has been induced experimentally in humans by co-administering a pantothenic acid antagonist and a pantothenic aciddeficient diet. Participants in this experiment complained of headache, fatigue, insomnia, intestinal disturbances, and numbness and tingling of their hands and feet.


Experimentally induced pantothenic acid deficiency in laboratory animals has been shown to cause loss of the myelin sheath and peripheral nerve damage.


Vitamin B6


Pyridoxal, pyridoxine, and pyridoxamine are collectively called vitamin B6, which is required for the biosynthesis of several neurotransmitters, including GABA, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Severe deficiency of vitamin B6 is uncommon, but alcoholics are thought to be most at risk due to inadequate dietary intakes and impaired metabolism of the vitamin. Neurologic symptoms of severe vitamin B6 deficiency include irritability, depression, confusion, and seizures.




Biotin (vitamin B7) is required for carboxylase enzymes that are important in the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids. While overt biotin deficiency is quite rare, deficiency of the vitamin has been observed in patients on prolonged intravenous feeding (parenteral nutrition) without biotin supplementation, in individuals consuming high amounts of raw egg white containing a protein that binds biotin and prevents its absorption, and in those with inherited disorders of biotin metabolism. Neurologic symptoms of biotin deficiency include depression, lethargy, hallucinations, and numbness and tingling of the extremities.




Folate (vitamin B9) is required for the metabolism of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and amino acids. The vitamin is also needed for the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, and, along with vitamin B12, folate is required in the breakdown of norepinephrine and dopamine. Dietary folate deficiency in the absence of vitamin B12 deficiency does not cause neurologic symptoms. However, individuals with genetic disorders of folate metabolism have experienced seizures and progressive neurologic deterioration.

Vitamin B12


In humans, vitamin B12 is a required cofactor for two enzymes: methionine synthase, which is needed for the production of methionine from homocysteine, and L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase, which is involved in crucial metabolic pathways. Vitamin B12 deficiency affects 10-15% of adults over the age of 60 years. It damages the myelin sheath of nerves and is frequently associated with neurological problems. Neurologic symptoms are the only clinical indicator of vitamin B12 deficiency in about 25% of cases. Such symptoms include numbness and tingling of the extremities, difficulty walking, problems with concentration, memory loss, disorientation, and dementia. Severe B12 deficiency is associated with pernicious anemia and, if untreated, can lead to "megaloblastic madness," characterized by delusions and hallucinations. Atrophic gastritis, an age-related condition resulting in diminished digestive factors, is often associated with decreased absorption of vitamin B12from food.

Hope this helps and keep me posted

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