Methyl B12 injections in autism treatment

Methyl B12 injections improve language, social and cognitive skills in autism treatment:

Methyl B12 injections are a safe and effective treatment for children diagnosed with autism.  B12 (cobalamin) is a vitamin “family” with five unique family members that each do different things. Out of the B12 family, methyl B12 has the ability to activate the methylation biochemical pathway directly which results in more “fuel” to the brain.

Methyl B12 works with folic acid to make all the cells in the body and because of that it plays a key role in methylation.  The methylation cycle supports many other functions in our bodies and increasing evidence is revealing the role this biochemically pathway plays in the interaction of environmental factors with genetic expression in autism.  For example, when babies are conceived, they are not methylated.  Methylation allows two cells from mom and dad to become a baby by supporting other cycles that govern development.

Furthermore, methylation has also been shown to impact potentially harmful processes like inflammation after a child leaves the womb.  The majority of children who are developmentally delayed have methylation impairment, resulting in many other potential changes to other biochemically processes.  In order to understand how methyl B12 injections help to improve language, social and cognitive skills for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, it is important to understand how methylation works in our body.

 

Methyl B12 injections stimulate the methylation pathway which is responsible for:

  • Making cell membranes
  • Making and repairing the genetic material in our bodies – also called DNA and RNA
  • Regulating parts of the immune system
  • Controls the detoxification of heavy metals and other harmful substances
  • Makes glutathione which is the body’s master antoxidant
  • Helps to maintain vitamin E and vitamin C in their active form
  • Production and function of proteins
  • Making phosphatidylcholine
  • Regulating iron metabolism
  • Managing inflammation


Methyl B12 injections improve development by increasing:

  • Awareness of surroundings and increased responsiveness
  • Cognition including focus and attention
  • Increased eye contact and social appropriateness
  • Normalized behaviours and reduction in self-stimulating behaviours
  • Reduced harmful behaviours such as headbanging, self-injury and/or aggression
  • Speech and language – both expressive, spontaneous and receptive
  • More complex sentences and increased vocabulary
  • Understanding and expressing emotions
  • Initiating play, more interactive play
  • Understanding and feeling emotions
  • Affection and tolerance to touch
  • Managing sensory integration


Undesired effects from methyl B12 injections:

Sometimes, children experience a mixture of both positive and negative changes when using methyl B12 injections.  Undesired effects are still a good sign of treatment success.  For that reason they are often called positive/negative because the aggravation will reduce in time leaving the some of the positive gains listed above.  Positive/negatives are not uncommon and include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Self-stimulating behaviour
  • Increased mouthing of objects
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aggression, hitting and biting

Negative side effects are caused by frustration when an increased awareness is present. Side effects can be mild to severe and are considered transient because they will pass as treatment progresses.


The Folate cycle and Methyl B12 injections:

Research has identified that methylation impairment is key factor in autism.  Methyl B12 injections support methylation, helping this cycle to governs 200 other biochemically pathways. One of these essential pathways is the folate cylce.  Methylation helps to convert folic acid or folates from the diet into their active forms, folinic acid and methyl folate.  Active folates are essential to support optimal development and are integral to the production of the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) serotonin and dopamine. Methylation impairment, consequently, results in significant changes in cell function if not supported by methylcobalamin and other methyl donors.

Serotonin and dopamine are needed to optimize language, social and cognitive abilities for children diagnosed with autism.  Serotonin and dopamine are made from amino acids, which make up protein, and are converted with the help of co-factors and the methylation cycle.

Improvements in children undergoing methyl B12 treatment are often the result of improvements in production of some brain chemicals.


The methylation cycle produces Glutathione:

One of the most important roles of the methylation cycle is to help produce glutathione, which is the body’s master antioxidant and detoxification agent.  Glutathione is up to 80% lower in children diagnosed with autism and detoxifies harmful toxins like heavy metals, chemicals or microbes.  This antioxidant is essential to brain health and depletion changes the way the brain is functioning. The brain is the only part of the body that has depends entirely on B12 to detoxify, because of this vitamin’s essential role in glutathione production.

If methylation is impaired or methylcobalamin levels are low, one consequence is a reduction in the amount of glutathione resulting in the brain becoming over-burdened with toxic substances.  As a result, the “wheels” of methylation slow, severely impacting cell function and, therefore, development.  Reduction in glutathione, leads to an increased toxic load in the cells due impaired detoxification, which in turn further slows methylation.  Similarly, low levels of glutathione lead to toxins triggering glutamate, which also negatively impacts methylation.


Glutathione’s role in managing glutamate:

Glutamate is a very important brain chemical but it needs to be strictly managed. First, let’s look at why this abundant neurotransmitter is important to development.  Glutamate, also called glutamic acid, exists in high concentrations in the brain and muscles which makes sense because it is an excitatory brain chemical that makes things happen.  In the first two years of life, glutamate helps to form the brain playing an important role in energy production, making proteins and also forming neurons.

Too much glutamate, on the other hand, creates problems with how the brain should be functioning. The excitation caused by glutamate can become toxic if not managed properly.  The brain’s immune cells suck up glutamate to make glutathione.  This prevents the cascade known as immunoexcitoxicity which is the root of many medical issues in autism in addition to commonly seen repetitive behaviours.  Reducing excess glutamate in the brain is one of the main biomedical treatment goals and is achieved by using methyl B12 injections and dietary intervention.


Methylation Overview:

The methylation system is methyl B12 dependent so by increasing the amount of methylcobalamin available, significant development benefits can be seen.  Children who have impaired methylation will almost always benefit from methyl B12 injections because of improvements in the way the folate cycle is functioning, resulting in more serotonin and dopamine production.  Methyl B12 injections make glutathione leading to a reduction  high levels of glutamate that contribute to “autistic” behaviours caused by sensory pain leading to headbanging, self-injury and/or aggression.  Restoring balance in the brain opens up opportunities for improved langauge, social and cognitive function because of the reduced discomfort of sensory overload and motor planning impairment.

 

References

JB Adams, T. Audhya, S. McDonough-Means et al. Nutritional and metabolic status of children with autism vs. neurotypical children, and the association with autism severity. Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 8, article 34, 2011.

RE Frye. Effectiveness of methylcobalamin and folinic Acid treatment on adaptive behavior in children with autistic disorder is related to glutathione redox status. Autism Res Treat. 2013;2013:609705. doi: 10.1155/2013/609705. Epub 2013 Oct 12.

RL, Hendren. Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Methyl B12 for Children with Autism. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Nov;26(9):774-783. Epub 2016 Feb 18.

James S Jill. Metabolic biomarkers of increased oxidative stress and impaired methylation capacity in children with autism1,2. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004;80:1611-7.

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