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Lack of Vitamin B12 can cause tremor symptoms.

Essential Tremor and CAM, Part II: Vitamins

As I wrote in Part I of this series, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) developed a large following during the last three or four decades. There is considerable interest in the preventive or therapeutic properties of substances such as herbs or mushrooms that occur naturally, and healing practices from other cultures.

What could be more natural than vitamins? Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet supplies these compounds that are needed for growth and for many bodily functions. We need vitamin intake because our bodies don’t manufacture these “building blocks” internally. Despite the fact that research gives conflicting evidence on the value of taking multivitaminsi, most doctors recommend taking a good quality multivitamin daily. (Consumers should research and compare product reviews because all brands are not alike.) We now know that due to large-scale farming practices, our produce is not as healthy as what our grandparents ate. According to Scientific American’s Earth Talk blog, “Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.”ii

Taking a daily multivitamin may be a good general health strategy but it won’t prevent essential tremor (ET). Most ET seems to have a genetic component traceable to parents, grandparents, etc. However, tremors and other movement disorders are associated with vitamin deficiency, most vitamins B1, B6 and especially B12. B12 is very important for keeping your nervous system in good working order. Severe lack of Vitamin B12 is rare, but shakiness and tremors can occur even in mild deficiency. “Both adults and infants deficient in vitamin B12 may present with chorea, tremor, myoclonus, Parkinsonism, dystonia, or a combination of these…”iii If neurological symptoms are due to vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be tested for, symptoms clear up with prescribed supplementation.

I am not suggesting that you begin self-supplementing with B12 without medical supervision. It is important to have an annual physical, including a complete blood workup. Meanwhile, include foods high in Vitamin B12 in your diet. These include shellfish, liver, fish, fortified soy products (tofu, soymilk), fortified cereals, red meat, low fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. Remember to go over significant dietary changes with your doctor, and keep in mind that lifestyle practices like high caffeine consumption and anxiety-provoking environments can aggravate tremor and cancel the effect of better nutrition.

If you suffer from ET that does not respond to medication or is not lessened by a balanced wellness approach, the Sperling Medical Group offers a noninvasive treatment that acts upon the small area in the brain that modulates ET. It is called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound, or MRgFUS. To learn more, contact the Sperling Medical Group.

iKamangar F, Emadi A. Vitamin and mineral supplements: do we really need them? Int J Prev Med. 2012 Mar; 3(3): 221–226.
iiide Souza A, Moloi MW. Involuntary movements due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Neurol Res. 2014 Dec;36(12):1121-8.

Essential Tremor