Science has examined the link between vitamin B12 deficiency and cognitive decline in the elderly.
Further 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 can be easily obtained in many ways, from diet to supplements – and that’s good, because a deficiency can cause long-term damage to nerves and cognitive functions.
Recent research has found that older people who have both vitamin B12 deficiency and folic acid or vitamin B9 excess are more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment. That’s what Eduardo Villamor, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, says.
Research suggests that vitamin B12 may help with depression and prevent dementia. However, Villamor notes that more research is needed on the effects of vitamin B12 on neurological behavior.
“There are great effects of vitamin B12 on neurocognitive performance, especially in the elderly,” says Villamor. “The role of vitamin B12 in 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 says that people who are deficient in vitamin B12 develop various symptoms; depending on how severe the nutrient deficiency is.
People with mild vitamin B12 deficiency are often tired, he says. Vitamin B12 reacts with compounds in the body to form DNA and energy. Deficiency can therefore lead to fatigue.
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 cracks or mouth ulcers.
Villamor says a mild vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a form of anemia called macrocytosis, in which red blood cells enlarge. According to the non-profit Mayo Clinic based in Minnesota, this condition usually does not cause symptoms, but can manifest itself in routine blood tests.
Mild deficiency can also lead to what is known as “peripheral neuropathy.” This is damage to the nerves 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.
A severe deficiency can lead to “severe neurological and psychiatric manifestations,” says Villamor.
Neurological symptoms include:
- Impaired cognition
A severe vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to severe anemia and problems with other blood cells, inflammation, heart failure and infertility, Villamor said.
This way you can treat vitamin B12 deficiency
Who is most at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency? People who eat little animal foods such as eggs and meat say Villamor.
You can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency with food of animal origin or other food supplements and foods rich in iron. Other treatment options include intramuscular injections or IV.
Villamor adds that older adults or people who have undergone stomach surgery, such as bypass, may have some type of malabsorption that can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. People who take stomach acid lowering drugs and people who drink large amounts of alcohol may also be at risk, Villamor said.
This English text was translated by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.