Neuropsychiatric manifestations in vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitam Horm. 2022:119:457-470. doi: 10.1016/bs.vh.2022.01.001. Epub 2022 Mar 3.


Vitamin B12 deficiency can have distressing neuropsychiatric symptoms. It can have an etiological role in clinical presentations like depression, anxiety, psychosis, dementia, and delirium, requiring screening of at-risk populations. Few mechanisms that underlie the neuropsychiatric manifestations of B12 deficiency include alteration in one-carbon metabolism, genetic vulnerability, and alteration in folate metabolism. Maintaining a high serum B12 level in elderly can be protective against Alzheimer's disease (AD). In an established AD, its deficiency is associated with higher cognitive decline and risk for delirium. The other mental changes associated with B12 deficiency include apathy, agitation, impaired concentration, insomnia, persecutory delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, and disorganized thought-process. Besides serum vitamin B12, plasma methylmalonic acid (MMA) and homocysteine helps in diagnosis. The chapter focuses on early recognition and effective treatment of these neuropsychiatric manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Keywords: Alcoholism; Anxiety; Delirium; Dementia; Depression; Management; Neuropsychiatric symptoms; Psychosis; Somatoform disorders; Vitamin B12 deficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy
  • Delirium* / drug therapy
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Vitamin B 12 / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency* / complications
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency* / diagnosis


  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin B 12