The processes occurring within our bodies are interconnected. When the level of one substance is off there is often a trickle down effect on other substances and body processes. One of the most important connections in our body is the relationship between lithium and vitamin B12.
As we learned in my video How Can Vitamin B12 Help Your Child with Autism? B12 has many important roles in the body and in order to understand lithium you need to first understand B12.
Vitamin B12 Affects Many Bodily Functions
B12 has many different integrated roles in the body. If this vitamin is deficient it can lead to a variety of symptoms.
B12 plays a role in:
- Neurotransmitter function
- Hormone production
- Liver function
- DNA synthesis and repair
When you look at B12 as it relates to methylation (the process by which we produce neurotransmitters) you will begin to understand the correlation between B12 and our moods.
Methylation aids in the production of neurotransmitters that affect our mood and sleep patterns like dopamine, melatonin, serotonin, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. All of these neurotransmitters are the result of and require methylation which requires B12 and folate to function optimally.
Low B12 levels are implicated in agitation, inattention, irritation, insomnia, and various other psychiatric diagnoses. It’s important to look at B12 levels when we’re dealing with autistic kids who display some of these symptoms. The root cause of the issues may be a B12 deficiency.
How Do Lithium and B12 Work Together?
Vitamin B12 requires lithium to work its best. You can think of lithium like a taxi that transports B12 into our cells. Lithium attaches to the B12 and moves it into our cells where it can be useful.
When I’m working with patients and they have high levels of B12, it’s not uncommon for them to additionally be low in lithium. When there isn’t enough lithium to transport the B12 into our cells where it can be effective, the B12 lingers and test results will show higher than normal levels of this vitamin.
For autistic kids struggling with irritability, sleep issues, inattention, and other psychiatric diagnoses it is important to investigate and address not only their B12 levels but also their lithium levels as the two are interrelated and essential to the healthy functioning of many of our body’s systems.
I hope this information enables you to continue to provide the best care possible for your child.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
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