Cognitive Decline and Vitamin B12

There are so many new findings on how important our nutritional foundation is in relation to our longevity and quality of life that it is very difficult to keep up with the current trends. If you haven’t noticed by now, when you go to your physician for a yearly checkup we are now seeing, for the first time, routine levels being drawn

for both vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 has many important functions in the body. It works with the B vitamin folate to make our body’s genetic material. It helps keep levels of the amino acid homocysteine in check, which may help decrease heart disease risk, and it is essential to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the blood to the body’s tissues. However, many people are deficient in B12.

There are many reasons or causes of deficiency. Some individuals have digestive systems that do not adequately absorb the vitamin from the foods they eat. This problem can increase as we age as well. Other causes could be pernicious anemia, which is the absence of a protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor, that must be present for absorption, atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining that affects up to 30% of people aged 50 and older, surgery in which part of the stomach and/or small intestine is

removed, excessive alcohol consumption or conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, bacterial growth, Graves’ disease, lupus erythematosus or even long-term use of acid-reducing drugs such as Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

The best sources of B12 are meat, eggs and milk, so vegetarians can also suffer deficiencies. So what are the symptoms? Weakness, or light-headedness, rapid heartbeat

and labored breathing, pale skin, sore tongue, easy bruising including bleeding gums, stomach upset and weight loss, diarrhea or constipation. If the deficiency isn’t corrected, it can damage the nerve cells. These effects can include tingling or numbness in fingers

and toes, difficulty walking, mood changes or depression, memory loss, disorientation and dementia. Even infants who are deficient in B12 can have permanent damage to the nervous system.

A study by researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University released information regarding the potential effect of mild vitamin B12 deficiency on some older adults and the link for greater risk for accelerated

cognitive decline. The study involved 549 women and men enrolled in a cohort of the Framington Heart Study with a focus on an established mini-test commonly used as a screening for dementia. The subjects were divided into five groups based on their vitamin B12 blood levels and the two lowest groups were associated with significantly

accelerated cognitive decline using the test scores over an eight-year time period. An interesting area to note is that those in the second lowest group did not appear to do any

better in regards to cognitive decline than those who had the lowest vitamin B12 levels. Lead researcher, Martha Savaria Morris of the Nutrition Epidemiology Program at HNRCA stated,“rapid neuropsychiatric decline is a well-known consequence of severe vitamin B12 deficiency, but our findings suggest that adverse cognitive effects of low vitamin B12 status may affect a much larger portion of seniors than previously thought.” While the study did not show causation, it is raising concern that inadequate vitamin B12

may be contributing to cognitive decline in older adults.

Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency can include:

  • Constantly feeling tired or chronic fatigue
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Poor memory
  • Inability to concentrate well
  • Mood changes, like increased depression or anxiety
  • Having abnormal heart problems, such as palpitations
  • Poor dental health, including bleeding gums and mouth sores
  • Digestive problems like nausea, diarrhea or cramping
  • A poor appetite
  • A more serious deficiency can also cause a form of anemia called pernicious anemia, a serious condition that can cause memory loss, confusion and even long-term dementia

Top 9 Vitamin B12 Benefits

1. Helps Maintain Energy Levels

Vitamin B12 benefits your metabolism because it’s needed to convert carbohydrates into useable glucose in the body. Glucose from carbohydrate foods is used as a form of energy, so this is the reason why people with vitamin B12 deficiencies often experience fatigue. Vitamin B12 is also needed for neurotransmitter signaling that helps your muscles contract and gives you energy to go about your day without feeling tired and run down.

2. Prevents Memory Loss and Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease

A vitamin B12 deficiency may cause various neurologic and psychiatric disturbances. Because of its role in nerve health and neurotransmitter signaling, vitamin B12 benefits cognitive function and is used to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's Disease and dementia.

3. Boosts Mood and Helps the Nervous System to Properly Function

One of the most researched vitamin B12 benefits is its ability to help in healthy regulation of the nervous system, including reducing such mood disorders as depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, along with folate, is needed as a major determinant of one-carbon metabolism, which produces the compound called SAM (S-adenosyl methionine). SAM is crucial for neurological function, dealing with stress and mood regulation.

Vitamin B12 is needed for concentration and cognitive processes, such as learning, so a vitamin B12 deficiency can result in difficulty focusing and an increased risk for attention disorders.

4. Plays a Role in Maintaining Heart Health

Vitamin B12 benefits cardiovascular health in several ways, which is important considering the fact that heart disease is currently the number one cause of death worldwide. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce elevated homocysteine levels, which is now considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Homocysteine is an amino acid and its levels in the blood are influenced by blood levels of B-complex vitamins, including vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 helps to protect against heart disease like a heart attack or stroke by lowering high homocysteine levels in the blood. There is also some evidence that B12 can help control high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels. B vitamins are also able to control atherosclerotic diseases, in which someone experiences a dangerous build-up of plaque in the arteries.

5. Needed for Healthy Skin and Hair

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy skin, hair and nails because it plays a major part in cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits skin health by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne blemishes — and can be applied to the skin for psoriasis and eczema. It can also reduce hair breakage and help nails to become stronger.

6. Aids in Digestion

Due to its role in helping with digestive enzyme production, vitamin B12 is needed to support a healthy metabolism and the breakdown of foods within the stomach. One of the ways that vitamin B12 benefits digestion? It helps foster healthy bacteria within the gut environment. The elimination of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract — and simultaneously the presence of beneficial bacteria — is what prevents digestive disorders like (IBS) or Candida.

7. Needed for a Healthy Pregnancy

Vitamin B12 is needed to create nucleic acid, or DNA — the basic genetic material that’s used to create the entire body. Therefore, vitamin B12 is not only a key nutrient for growth and development, but a vital component of a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B12 also interacts with folate in the body, so it may help lower the risk of birth defects, such as neural tube defects.

8. May Help Prevent Cancer

Vitamin B12 supplementation is now being studied as a way to help lower the risk of certain kinds of cancers, especially when taken with folate. Some preliminary research shows that vitamin B12 benefits the immune system enough to potentially help prevent cancer, including cervical, prostate and colon cancers.

9. Helps Produce Red Blood Cells and Prevent Anemia

Vitamin B12 is needed to help produce a healthy level of red blood cells. It helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in symptoms like chronic fatigue and weakness.

We Offer Injectable and Sublingual Vitamin B12

Methylcobalmin - 35% of the population cannot methylate, so you must use Methylcobalamin which is the active form of B12. To find out if you can't methylate, ask your doctor about blood testing or other genetic testing.

As we age our intrintic factor decreases, so taken orally may be less effective, so injectable or sublingual would be ideal forms.

If you think that you may have a problem with B12 absorption or may be otherwise deficient in any nutrient building block, call our Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Christina Reiter, for a comprehensive analysis of your health at Texas Star Pharmacy, 3033 W. Parker Rd., #100, Plano, TX 75023, 972-519-8475 or find us at

If you have any questions, please contact us!

972-519-8475 or email: