A silent crippler stalks millions of North Americans'and any of us may be its next victim. This crippler is a master of masquerade, striking different people in different ways. It afflicts one person with tremors, makes another depressed or psychotic, and causes agonizing leg and arm pains or paralysis in still another. It can mimic Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, early Parkinson's disease, diabetic neuropathy, or chronic fatigue syndrome. It can make men or women infertile or cause developmental disabilities in their children. Other times it lurks silently, stealthily increasing its victim's risk of deadly diseases ranging from stroke and heart attacks to cancer. This medical disorder stems from a vitamin deficiency, but your standard multivitamin pill won't prevent it in many cases, and even high-dose oral formulas of this vitamin may not help. It's considered an ?old people's disease? by doctors, but it can strike any person at any age, and it sometimes hits children the hardest. The disorder is vitamin B12 deficiency. If you develop this deficiency it's easy to spot, easy to treat, and easy to cure'but only if your doctor diagnoses you before it's too late. Unfortunately, that frequently doesn't happen. This isn't a new or fad disease. In fact, you'll find it listed in the textbooks of any first-year medical student. It's not a rare disease, either: If you're over forty, you're at an elevated risk for dangerous B12 deficiency, and if you're over sixty, you have up to a 40 percent chance of having dangerously low B12 levels.Pacholok, Sally M. is the author of 'Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses', published 2005 under ISBN 9781884956461 and ISBN 1884956467.