The essential vitamin B 12 is vital for many bodily functions. It has a great effect on the mind is also linked to improving cognition and decreasing Alzheimer’s dementia. This is done risk by reducing homocysteine production. Homocysteine, produced by our bodies naturally, is also believed to be linked to not only dementia but also cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately our bodies’ ability to absorb B 12 is limited by our gastrointestinal ability to properly absorb it.
Older adults who notice a gradual decrease in mental sharpness need to seriously consider B12 supplementation with via adequate dietary sources or supplementation. As B12 is an essential vitamin (meaning the body does not produce it) we must get it from one of these sources. Your doctor may check serum B12 levels to see if you are in fact deficient. However, this method is not always reliable. B 12 deficiency can be masked by taking folic acid which corrects the deficiency but not the anemia. Also certain people with genetic variants may have normal b12 blood levels despite being deficient. Also oral contraceptives can effect testing accuracy.
Folate (B9) combined with Vitamin B12 can be effective in overall improving mental clarity, cognition and decreasing Alzheimer’s risk. Low folate levels are associated with both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Since both elevated homocysteine and vitamin deficiencies have been linked to dementia, the best approach to preventing and treating dementia (including Alzheimer’s dementia) would appear to be testing the blood for elevated homocysteine and taking methylation enhancing nutrients such as folic acid, Trimethylglycine (TMG), and vitamin B12. Family history of Alzheimer’s , stroke or heart disease further stresses the importance of being proactive in lowering homcysteine.
As we age, we lose the ability to easily absorb vitamin B12 from foods. This is most common over the age of 50, notes Drugs.com. People with a history of gastrointestinal surgery may lose the ability to properly absorb vitamin B12. Some digestive disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease, may not absorb enough vitamin B12. A deficiency in vitamin B12 may occur with a condition called pernicious anemia. The stomach does not make an adequate amount of intrinsic factor with pernicious anemia and without intrinsic factor, vitamin B12 travels through the digestive tract without being absorbed.
If you find you are vitamin B12 deficient with no recognizable ill effects from the condition you may benefit from taking supplemental vitamin B12 by mouth. However if you are symptomatic you likely need intramuscular injections of B12. Consult with your primary care physician for individualized guidance.
An individual would have to take massive doses of Vitamin B12 and B9 to become toxic the benefit of daily supplementation seems to outweigh the fears of taking too much of these B vitamins. This offers a way to ensure daily intake with hopes of replenishing any deficiencies.
Dr. Germaine B. Hawkins, D.O.
Founder of Proprietary Formulation, Advyndra®
“Specifically designed to support optimal brain functioning”