Low Vitamin B12 linked to poor brain health
Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to mental health issues such as cognitive decline and dementia. However research suggests that low ‘normal’ levels of vitamin B12 are potentially linked to similar effects on memory and brain structure indicating that you don’t just have to be deficient in B12 to have an increased risk of mental health decline.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition checked vitamin B12 levels and compared memory function in a study group of women aged 50-80 suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a condition in which someone has minor problems with memory or thinking which are worst than would normally be expected for a healthy person of that age. However, symptoms are not severe enough to interfere significantly with daily life and therefore is not defined as dementia.
The results indicated that those with low-normal levels of vitamin B12 had significantly poorer memory performance than those with high-normal vitamin B12. Additionally, brain structure in the hippocampus was reduced which contributed towards understanding the effect of low vitamin B12 on memory performance.
The study investigators noted that this may impact the current serum levels of vitamin B12 being used and in older adults where impaired memory is beginning develop, it might be advisable to consider earlier supplementation of vitamin B12.
Foods high in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, liver, fish, crab, fortified soy products (tofu, soymilk), fortified cereals, red meat, low fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. Vegetarians therefore should be mindful of vitamin B12 intake.