Prevent Memory Loss: Health Benefits Of Vitamin B12 For Seniors With Alzheimer’s
It is unlikely that a plant-based diet alone will supply you with an adequate amount of vitamin B12. You must make sure that you’re eating and drinking products that have been fortified with the vitamin, or take special supplements to avoid deficiency.
High levels of vitamin B12 in the blood are already known to help reduce levels of homocysteine, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and stroke. … During the study, published in Neurology, 17 people developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B12 may help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, according to new evidence that suggests the vitamin and an amino acid called homocysteine may both be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s.
High levels of vitamin B12 in the blood are already known to help reduce levels of homocysteine, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and stroke. But researchers say the relationship between homocysteine and vitamin B12 levels and Alzheimer’s disease risk has been unclear.
The seven-year study followed 271 Finnish people ages 65 to 79 who did not have any symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease at the start of the study.
During the study, published in Neurology, 17 people developed Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that each picomolar increase in blood vitamin B12 level was associated with a 2% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly.
In addition, each micromolar increase in blood homocysteine level raised the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 16%.
Blood levels of folate, another nutrient believed to lower homocysteine levels, were not linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk.
“Our findings show the need for further research on the role of vitamin B12 as a marker for identifying people who are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” says researcher Babak Hooshmand, MD, MSc, with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, in a news release. “Low levels of vitamin B12 are surprisingly common in the elderly.”
A 2008 Oxford University study (journal: Neurology) showed that older people with lower B 12 levels were 6 times more likely to exhibit brain shrinkage, and even the group of people having B-12 levels above those designated too low, developed dementia and other age related problems during the 5 year study.
Typically, symptoms include: Shortness of breath, fatigue, anaemia, weakness, fainting, dizziness, sores in the mouth, memory loss, dementia, slow reflexes, coldness or numbness in feet and hands.
Heart attacks have also been linked to low levels of vitamin B-12. (American Journal of Epidemiology Vol 143).
Several research studies have indicated that 40 per cent of the population could be short of vitamin B-12.
Until recently the recommended adult intake was in the region of just 3-5 micrograms per day. However research with heart disease patients has shown levels of 100-400 micrograms are much more beneficial.
Why is it so important?
The vitamin is crucial to life and to general health, being involved in almost every cellular system in the body. Over 300 enzymatic reactions use this vitamin in some way. Apart from dementia, fatigue and heart problems, some cancers (for exampl, breast cancer) are known to be associated with lowered levels of this vitamin.
In recent years scientists have become more and more knowledgeable and concerned about Vitamin B-12, particularly for people over the age of 50 and/or those on strict vegetarian diets. Some 72 per cent of vegetarians are deficient in this vitamin, as it is most readily found in meat.
The vitamin is known to help form and regenerate red blood cells
As you will read below, lowered B-12 levels are not so much about what we eat, but far more to do with our ability to RELEASE the vitamin from our food. Lowered levels of beneficial bacteria, coupled with increased levels of microbes and particularly Helicobacter pylori weaken our ability to release the vitamin from the food we consume, especially as we age. This is true of other essential B vitamins too.
A particular concern at CANCERactive is with those cancer patients who rush to change their diet as part of their personal cancer therapy programme, and become vegan or vegetarian. This can result in a further lowering of B-12 levels and it could be that their cancer was already associated with lowered levels of B-12. People who change their diet in this way may actually be compounding a problem. In these cases supplementation is almost certainly essential if only as insurance!.
Vitamin B12 is a complicated vitamin with a unique absorption mechanism and a number of inactive analogues—molecules that appear to be active B12, but actually are not—that possibly interfere with its function.
Vitamin B12 is generally found in all animal foods except honey. But there is no reliable B12 in Plant Foods, including tempeh, seaweeds, and organic produce. Luckily, vitamin B12 is made by bacteria and doesn’t need to be obtained from animal products.
How Vitamin B12 Deficiency Harms a Senior’s Health
In the body, vitamin B12 — also known as cobalamin — is especially vital to making red blood cells, and maintaining proper function of nerve cells. When vitamin B12 levels are low, a person can develop health problems related to red blood cells and nerve cells not working well.
The most common problems related to low vitamin B12 levels include:
- Anemia. This means low red blood cell count. Red blood cells carry oxygen in the blood, so anemia can cause fatigue or shortness of breath. The breakdown of faulty red blood cells can also cause jaundice.
- Neuropathy. This means nerves in the body not working well. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including tingling, numbness, burning, poor balance and walking difficulties.
- Cognitive impairment. This means that nerve cells in the brain are not working well. This can cause memory problems, irritability, and even dementia.
You may have heard that vitamin B12 deficiency can cause pernicious anemia. But in fact, the term “pernicious anemia” means a vitamin B12 deficiency that’s caused by the loss of a body’s ability to make “intrinsic factor.” The body needs intrinsic factor to absorb vitamin B12; without it, vitamin B12 levels eventually drop. This often causes anemia, but sometimes symptoms of nerve and brain problems occur first.
Why Low Vitamin B12 Levels Are Common in Older Adults
To understand how low vitamin B12 levels happen in aging adults, it’s good to start by learning how the body usually obtains and processes this vitamin.
In nature, vitamin B12 is available to humans only in meat and dairy products. However in modern times, you can easily get it via a supplement or multivitamin. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms. Experts have estimated that a Western diet contains 5-7 micrograms of vitamin B12, and a multivitamin often contains 12-25 micrograms.
Once you ingest vitamin B12, it is processed by acids and enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. The processed vitamin B12 is then absorbed by the small intestine, and it’s stored in the body, especially in the liver.
This stash can actually meet the body’s needs for a few years; although vitamin B12 is essential, only a tiny bit is needed every day. So if a healthy person stops taking in vitamin B12, it often takes a few years before the body runs out of stored B12 and develops symptoms.
So why does vitamin B12 particularly affect older adults?
As people get older, their ability to absorb vitamin B12 tends to decrease. This is because seniors often develop problems with the acids and stomach enzymes needed to process the vitamin.
Common risk factors for low vitamin B12 levels in older adults include:
- Low levels of stomach acid, which can be due to weakening of the stomach lining, or to medications that reduce stomach acid
- Medications such as metformin (used for diabetes), which interferes with vitamin B12 absorption
- Alcoholism, which irritates the stomach and sometimes is linked to a poor diet
- Surgeries that remove parts (or all) of the stomach or small intestine
- Any problem that causes poor absorption in the stomach or small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease
Why Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Often Missed in Seniors
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often missed because the symptoms — fatigue, anemia, neuropathy, memory problems, or walking difficulties — are quite common in older adults, and can easily be caused by something else.
Also, vitamin B12 deficiency tends to come on very slowly, so people often go through a long period of being mildly deficient. During this time, a senior might have barely noticeable symptoms, or the symptoms might be attributed to another chronic health condition.
Still, a mild deficiency will almost always get worse over time. And even when a senior has many other causes for fatigue or problems with mobility, it’s good to fix whatever aggravating factors — such as a vitamin deficiency — can be fixed.
Unlike many problems that affect seniors, vitamin B12 deficiency is quite treatable. You just need to make sure it’s detected, and then make sure the treatment plan has raised the vitamin B12 levels and kept them steady.
Who Should Be Checked for Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Your parent should probably be checked for Vitamin B12 deficiency if he or she is experiencing any of the health problems that can be caused by low levels of this vitamin.
I especially recommend checking vitamin B12 levels if you’ve been concerned about memory, brain function, neuropathy, walking or anemia.
To make sure you aren’t missing a mild vitamin B12 deficiency, you can also proactively check for low vitamin B12 levels if your parent is suffering from any of the common risk factors associated with this condition.
For instance, you can proactively request a vitamin B12 check if your parent is vegetarian, or if she has suffered from problems related to the stomach, pancreas, or intestine. It’s also reasonable to check a level if your older parent has been on medication to reduce stomach acid for a long time.
How Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Diagnosed and Treated
The first step in checking for deficiency is a blood test to check the serum level of vitamin B12.
Because folate deficiency can cause a similar type of anemia (megaloblastic anemia, which means a low red blood cell count with overly-large cells), doctors often test the blood for both folate and vitamin B12. However, folate deficiency is much less common.
You should know that it’s quite possible to have clinically important low vitamin B12 levels without having anemia. If a clinician pooh-poohs a request for a vitamin B12 check because an older person had a recent normal blood count, you can share this research article with her.
If the vitamin B12 level is borderline, a confirmatory blood test can be ordered. It’s called methylmalonic acid, and it is higher than usual when people have vitamin B12 deficiency.
If the blood tests confirm a vitamin B12 deficiency, the doctors will prescribe vitamin B12 supplementation to get the body’s levels back up. The doctor may also recommend additional tests or investigation to find out just why your parent has developed low vitamin B12.
The typical initial treatment for a significant vitamin B12 deficiency involves intramuscular shots of vitamin B12 – 1000 micrograms. This bypasses any absorption problems in the stomach or intestine.
High-dose oral vitamin B12 supplements (1000-2000 micrograms per day) have also been shown to raise levels, because high doses can usually compensate for the body’s poor absorption. However, oral treatments probably take longer to work than intramuscular shots. So they’re not ideal for initially correcting a deficiency, although they’re sometimes used to maintain vitamin B12 levels.
I’ve found that most seniors prefer oral supplements over regular vitamin B12 injections, which is understandable; I don’t like getting shots either. However, this requires seniors to consistently take their supplement every single day. If your parent has difficulty taking medications regularly, scheduled vitamin B12 shots are often the better option.
So if your parent is being treated for vitamin B12 deficiency, you don’t need to worry that the doctors will overshoot. You just need to make sure a follow-up test has confirmed better vitamin B12 levels, and then your family will work with the doctors to find the right maintenance dose to prevent future vitamin B12 deficiency.
What If I Take To Much B-12?
When taken at appropriate doses, vitamin B-12 supplements are generally considered safe. While the recommended daily amount of vitamin B-12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms, you can safely take higher doses. Your body absorbs only as much as it needs, and any excess passes through your urine.Oct 17, 2017 Vitamin B-12 – Mayo Clinic
The good thing about vitamin B12 treatment is that it’s basically impossible to overdose. Unlike some other vitamins, vitamin B12 doesn’t cause toxicity when levels are high.
What is VeganSafe Vitamin B-12?
VeganSafe B-12 is a certified organic, vegan formula that contains methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, the two most bioactive forms of B-12. Although most of us simply know vitamin B-12 as the B vitamin responsible for energy production, it’s important to understand that “vitamin B-12” is actually a catch-all term for a class of vitamins known as cobalamins — and they’re not equal in their benefits.
The Top 5 Reasons You Need VeganSafe B-12
1. It’s the Best B-12 Available!
Methylcobalamin, or methylated B-12 is the most pure, active, bioavailable coenzyme form of B-12 and when paired with adenosylcobalamin, the other coenzyme form of B-12, forms the most potent B-12 combination available.
2. Encourages Normal Energy Levels
Vitamin B-12 promotes energy production in multiple ways. It supports the adrenal glands, red blood cell formation, and helps convert carbohydrates to glucose — the fuel your body uses for energy.
3. Ultra Absorbable Formula Helps Fight B-12 Deficiency
B-12 deficiency is a serious problem that can cause anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, weight loss, depression, poor memory, asthma, vision problems, and low sperm count.
4. Supports Your Body’s Major Processes
As a defense against homocysteine, B-12 is nutritional support for your cardiovascular and nervous systems.
5. Natural Sleep Support
Some research has linked methylcobalamin to positive effects on sleep due to its influence on melatonin secretion and light sensitivity; it also helps normalize a person’s 24-hour clock.
The Health Benefits of VeganSafe B-12
- Nutritionally supports cardiovascular function.
- Promotes nervous system health.
- Fights homocysteine, a cardiovascular stressor.
- Supports adrenal function and energy production.
- Essential for cell growth and replication and DNA production.
- May support a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Shocking Facts About Vitamin B-12
- As many as 30% of adults over 50 are unable to absorb B-12 in food, making supplementation the best source. Research conducted at the University of Oxford study found that vitamin B-12 deficiency may lead to brain shrinkage. B-12 supplementation is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease but preliminary reports suggest a link between vitamin B-12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B-12 deficiency leads to megaloblastic anemia, a fatigue ridden condition where red blood cells don’t develop properly and can’t carry oxygen efficiently.
- 1. Contains methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, the bioavailable, coenzyme forms of B-12.
- 2. Highly absorbable, no conversion in the liver is necessary.
- 3. The European Food Safety Authority reports that the combination of adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin is the best and safest representation of naturally occurring vitamin B-12.
- 4. VeganSafe B-12 is an easy and delicious liquid formula — no injections.
- 5. Certified organic, vegan, GMO and gluten free!
- 6. Made in the USA from globally sourced ingredients and according to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
The Top 3 Questions People Ask About VeganSafe B-12
What is vitamin B-12? Vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is the B vitamin that supports normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, energy production, and for the formation of red blood cells. It’s important to know that vitamin B-12 is a name that refers to a group of vitamins known as cobalamins; this includes methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, hydroxo-, and cyanocobalm
- 2. What is hydroxo- and cyanocobalamin? Cheap, lesser quality forms of vitamin B-12 often used by bargain vitamin companies who add them for marketing purposes. Cyanocobalamin contains a cyanide molecule that must be metabolized by the liver. The process of removing the cyanide molecule uses methyl groups normally used to lower homocysteine levels (higher homocysteine cause stress on the heart). Cyanocobalamin robs your body of beneficial methyl groups and is a perfect example of an instance when low-quality vitamins are worse than no vitamins.3. Why is VeganSafe B-12 superior to other cobalamins? VeganSafe B-12 contains adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin, a combination that’s better absorbed and used more efficiently in your liver, brain, and nervous system. VeganSafe B-12 does not have to be converted in your liver. Methylcobalamin supports vision whereas cyanocobalamin is thought to be ineffective. Cyanocobalmin is also not recommended for people who smoke, have kidney problems, or don’t metabolize cyanide properly.
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- Take 1 dropper (1 ml) daily on an empty stomach, preferably in the morning or early afternoon or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Hold in mouth for 15 seconds and then swallow.
- Keep out of reach of children.
- Consult your healthcare provider before taking if pregnant or nursing.
- Store in a cool, dry place
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