Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.
Up to 30% of the population over 50 years of age is at risk for developing a vitamin B-12 deficiency because of changes that occur in the digestive tract.
According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells.
Vitamin B-12 is contained within the protein in food. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach allows the vitamin B-12 in food to be released so that it can combine with a substance called intrinsic factor. Once combined with intrinsic factor, vitamin B-12 can be absorbed by the intestinal tract and used in the body.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, like those of many other treatable health conditions, can be virtually identical to age dementia symptoms, senile dementia symptoms and Alzheimers symptoms. As many as 20% of people over age 65 have low Vitamin B12 levels. Correcting the deficiency can help older people resume a full and normal lives.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness and tingling of hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Sore mouth and tongue
Confusion or change in mental status in severe or advanced cases. This is sometimes confused with dementia. More importantly, even a moderate deficiency of this important vitamin and its counterpart, folic acid, may ultimate contribute to the onset of Alzheimers disease or other related dementias.
Vitamin B12 is found in almost all multivitamins. Dietary supplements that contain only vitamin B12, or vitamin B12 with nutrients such as folic acid and other B vitamins, are also available. The National Instututes of Heath Office of Dietary Supplements recommends adults obtain a minimum of 2.6 micrograms per day.
More information on Vitamin B12 can be obtained at the following: