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Vitamin B12 Helps Preserve Brain Power

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Low levels of vitamin B12 may put older people at risk for cognitive decline. Researchers in Chicago studied more than 500 volunteers for over six years. Their mental function was assessed through testing every three years. Blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12, homocysteine and methylmalonic acid. People with low levels of B12 and high levels of methylmalonic acid, a marker of intracellular vitamin B12 insufficiency, had a more rapid decline in their test scores. Those subjects with higher levels of B12 did better.

Senior citizens can develop vitamin B12 deficiencies over time as a result of too little stomach acid. Drugs that suppress the production of stomach acid have been linked to lower levels of this nutrient. A diabetes drug called metformin is also associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Physicians need to monitor both B12 and methylmalonic acid to best make sure that older patients are not put at unnecessary risk of cognitive decline.

[Neurology, Sept. 27, 2011]

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4 Comments

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What is the recommended dosage for supplemental oral B12?

People's Pharmacy response: For older people on one of these medicines, 1000 micrograms (1 milligram) per day.

I think it would have been even more helpful information if you had included a statement of what a recommended dosage, and type of B12 might be, for the older population. When my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, her neurologist recommended a 1000 mcg. bi-lingual (dissolved in mouth) tablet, and suggested I might consider taking one also. I now do volunteer work for a local Alzheimer's Assoc. and we give out a suggested supplement list to be discussed with the personal doctor. B12 is the first on the list.

It would be useful to know what foods contain B12 as well as the amount of supplementation.

People's Pharmacy response: No plant foods contain B12; animal foods (chicken, fish, meat, eggs) and yeast contain B12.

Appreciated the article, but I always like to know who funded the research--if possible. Thanks for all you do. RAB

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