Science has studied the link between vitamin B12 deficiency and cognitive decline in older people.
More research is needed in this area, but one thing is clear: Vitamin B12 is essential for energy production.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause anemia, fatigue and nerve damage.
Vitamin B12 is readily obtained in many ways, from diet to supplements, and that’s a good thing, because a deficiency can cause long-term nerve and cognition damage.
Recent research has found that older people who are deficient in vitamin B12 and have an excess of folic acid or vitamin B9 are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment. This was stated by Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan.
Research suggests that vitamin B12 can help with depression and prevent dementia. But Villamor notes that more research is needed on the impact of vitamin B12 on neurological behavior.
“There are great effects of vitamin B12 on neurocognitive performance, particularly in older people,” says Villamor. “The role of vitamin B12 on infant and early childhood neurodevelopment is also an important area of research.”
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency range from mild fatigue to severe neurological complications
Villamor states that people deficient in vitamin B12 develop a variety of symptoms; depending on the severity of the nutrient deficiency.
People with a mild vitamin B12 deficiency are often tired, he says. Vitamin B12 reacts with compounds in the body to produce DNA and energy. A deficiency can therefore lead to fatigue.
A mild to moderate vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen. Aaron Goodmana hematologist and professor at UC San Diego Health explains that anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency leads to cracking or sores in the mouth.
Villamor states that moderate vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a form of anemia called macrocytosis, in which red blood cells become enlarged. According to the nonprofit Mayo Clinic based in Minnesota, this condition does not usually cause symptoms, but it can manifest with routine blood tests.
A moderate deficiency can also lead to what is known as “peripheral neuropathy”. This is nerve damage outside the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include tingling or numbness in the hands and feet and “glossitis,” an inflammation of the tongue that can lead to sensitivity to spicy or acidic foods.
Severe deficiency can lead to “severe neurological and psychiatric manifestations,” Villamor says.
Neurological symptoms include:
- Impaired cognition
Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to severe anemia and problems with other blood cells, inflammation, weakening of the heart, and infertility, Villamor said.
Here’s how to cure a vitamin B12 deficiency
Who is at the greatest risk of being vitamin B12 deficient? People who eat small animal foods like eggs and meat, Villamor says.
You can prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency with foods of animal origin or with other dietary supplements and foods rich in iron. Other treatment options include intramuscular injections or a drip.
Villamor adds that older adults or people who have had stomach surgery, such as a bypass, may have some type of malabsorption that can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. People who take medications to reduce stomach acid and people who drink large amounts of alcohol may also be at risk, Villamor said.
This text was translated from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.