I recently came across a New York Times article entitled “It Could be Old Age, or it Could be Low B12“. The article recounts a story of an 87 year old woman who was becoming increasingly confused and had lapses in her memory which led to a diagnosis of Alzheimers Disease. As part of her work up her B12 levels were tested. She had low B12 and regular B12 injections were done, which resulted in significant improvements in her mental state and memory to the point where she is able to live independently and her daughter reported that “I felt I had my mother back, and she feels a lot better, too.”
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that required for the formation of red blood cells, healthy nervous system and DNA production.
Symptoms of Low B12 Include:
3. Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
5. Poor memory, sometimes described as “brain fog”
7. Sore mouth and tongue
What Causes Low B12 ?
1. Diet low in food sources of B12 (not uncommon in those following a vegetarian diet).
2. Impaired absorption in the gastrointestinal tract due to digestive concerns or a history of surgery involving the gastrointestinal tract.
3. It’s not uncommon to see low levels in the elderly due to the presence of lower levels of stomach acid, which is required for optimal B12 absorption.
Testing B12 Levels & Treating Low B12:
B12 status is evaluated by a blood test. Typically it is done in conjunction with a Complete Blood Cell (CBC).
When B12 levels are found to be low it is important to ensure that dietary changes are made to include foods higher in B12, especially if they aren’t being consumed already.
B12 can also be supplemented in the form of a pill or by injection. The injection is more effective if there are any concerns with absorption in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract as the B12 is administered into muscle bypassing the GI tract.
The Bottom Line:
As with any health concerns it is important to seek out a health care provider for a full assessment when experiencing any new symptoms. Assessing nutrient status including B12 can be a valuable means of determining if low B12 may be the cause of the symptoms listed above.
Comment below, have you ever experienced any benefits from taking Vitamin B12?