Dementia and Low B12According to PubMed Health (U.S. National Library of Medicine) a deficiency of vitamin B12 may be linked to dementia in elderly people. A study of 121 people found that participants with lower vitamin B12 levels did worse on cognitive tests and had smaller brain volumes, as shown by MRI scans. Other studies have shown that decreased brain volume is linked to dementia. The correlation between low vitamin B12 levels and low brain volume suggests that B12 levels may play a role in the development of dementia.

Age Can Make it Harder for the Body to Absorb B12
Vitamin B12 is found in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Groups that typically suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency include vegans and people in third world countries, but growing evidence suggests that elderly people may also be at risk for a B12 deficiency. This is because as the body ages, it becomes harder for vitamin B12 to be absorbed, researchers believe. The current research needs to be supplemented with further studies to reveal exactly how vitamin B12 and dementia are linked, but as it stands, researchers believe that doctors treating early signs of dementia should look at their patient’s B12 levels.

This vitamin is important as it plays a role in having a healthy nervous system, making DNA, and it also contributes to the health of red blood cells. In the past, doctors have looked at vitamin B12 as a possible treatment for such diseases and conditions as chronic fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, breast cancer, and high cholesterol. So far results of studies on B12 have been inconclusive.  However, WebMD reports that vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and other nervous system problems.

Getting More B12

A healthy diet rich in protein and dairy is important to maintaining proper vitamin B12 levels. However, if your doctor finds that your B12 levels are lower than they should be, you may want to consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement, a multivitamin, or receiving periodic B12 injections. Other things you can do to help keep your brain healthy include exercising both your body and your mind. Do a crossword with your spouse or see how many questions you can answer on Jeopardy on a regular basis to help keep your brain active and healthy. A good diet and plenty of social interaction are also important to brain health.