I’ve written before how vitamin B12 seemed to help with my silent reflux, and I’ve also written about Vagal Neuropathy being a possible underlying cause, but could those two be related?
Let’s take a look at symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
Three of these really stand out to me because I experienced them. I had heart palpitations and shortness of breath occasionally, but not so much that it was a major concern. I had written those symptoms off as being silent reflux. I was told that silent reflux will cause the gases from your stomach to rise into your throat, and when you inhale them, they’ll cause the shortness of breath and heart palpitations. (maybe, but I’ve come to disagree somewhat)
Weakness and Tiredness. I could get a good nights sleep, head into work, have a cup of coffee, and feel sleepy two hours later. I wrote this off as part of having sleep apnea.
Numbness and tingling. I experienced this in both legs last year, and wrote if off as a nerve problem, probably from heavy leg presses at the gym. I went to my doctor, had x-rays, and no cause was found.
The interesting thing is, I wasn’t taking B12 during this time. I had stopped because I wasn’t having a lot of silent reflux issues. When I started taking B12 again I noticed things change in the first week:
The dose I started taking was over 10,000 mcg, a mega dose. I’ve scaled back to 5,000 mcg with the same results. I spread them out, morning, noon, and evening. Check with your doctor should you choose to try that.
What causes B12 deficiency? The consensus seems to be diet, especially if you are vegan, but I’m not vegan. The second cause is pernicious anemia or a problem with its absorption. In this case you need to supplement orally or with injections. In the early days of treating pernicious anemia patients had to eat large quantities of beef liver to increase their B12 intake. For the record, I’m not sure if I have pernicious anemia. I’ll check into that later. Right now I’m doing good, and seeing is believing.
So what’s the connection with silent reflux, B12 and vagal neuropathy? I have a theory, and I’ll bet at some point this is going come out from some research paper down the line. So let’s look back at vagal neuropathy:
How can B12 affect the vagal nerve, or nerves in general? Ever hear of Myelin?
How does B12 come into play?
Vitamin B-12 plays a major role in providing cofactors that are required to form myelin. Vitamin B-12 is required for the production of methionine — a precursor for S-adenosyl methionine, which is required for methylation reactions. These reactions are essential for myelin maintenance and nerve function. Demyelination — where the myelin sheath becomes damaged causing disruption in nerve-impulse transmission — results from vitamin B-12 deficiency. Neurological problems occur in most people who are deficient in vitamin B-12.
That’s my theory – A lack of enough B12 to maintain proper myelin production causes the vagal nerve signals to be disrupted. This may also cause signals to the lower esophageal sphincter to become disrupted. When this happens the signal for the sphincter to close isn’t happening as it should, which results in reflux. This might also be compounded by eating foods such as chocolate, peppermint, and coffee which relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
I’ll conclude this post with I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice. These are my observations, thoughts, and theories based on my experience with silent reflux. I don’t have any medical proof, or studies to substantiate any of this. What I do have is my own results, and those may or may not apply to you should you choose to duplicate them. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet or introducing any new supplements of drugs into your body.