An observational study conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that vitamin B12 deficiency in adults may be linked to accelerated cognitive decline.
During the study, investigators looked at the scores of 549 patients who took the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) – a screening for dementia – during the Framingham Heart Study. The participants were divided into five groups depending on their B12 levels. The two lowest groups displayed equal rates of cognitive decline as well as the most rapid rates of decline. While B12 deficiency being tied to decreased cognitive abilities is not new knowledge, the number of older people affected by a lack of the vitamin may be substantially greater than was previously thought.
“Men and women in the second lowest group did not fare any better in terms of cognitive decline than those with the worst vitamin B12 blood levels. Over time, their MMSE scores declined just as rapidly,” said study author, Martha Morris, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the Nutrition Epidemiology Program at Tufts University. “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 proportion of seniors than previously thought.”
The researchers reported that most of the study subjects were white women who received high school diplomas, and future studies should be conducted with a more diverse test group. The investigators also noted that the MMSE is a broad measurement of cognitive decline and further research should look to find how B12 deficiency specifically affects mental processes.
Vitamin B12 facts
According to the Mayo Clinic, B12 plays a crucial role in synthesizing DNA and proteins. B12 can be found in fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products and a Sublingual B12 Advantage supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.