Hide this

Vitamin B12 Keeps Your Brain Young

September 23, 2008 | 58,906 views
Share This Article Share

elderly ladyOlder individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 are at increased risk of having brain atrophy or shrinkage. Brain atrophy is associated with Alzheimer's disease and impaired cognitive function.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among older people.

In a study involving more than 100 volunteers aged 61 to 87, all participants underwent annual clinical exams, MRI scans and cognitive tests, and had blood samples taken. Individuals with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the study had a greater decrease in brain volume. Those with the lowest B12 levels had a sixfold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels.

However, none of the participants were actually deficient in vitamin B12 -- they just had low levels within a normal range.

Other risk factors for brain atrophy include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Effortless Healing – One Step at a Time – NOW AVAILABLE!

My newest book, Effortless Healing is now available! I've organized this book into a guide that will help you avoid the many pitfalls of the conventional approach to health. Rather than relying on expensive and potentially dangerous drugs, I will help you effortlessly make small shifts in what you eat and how you live to achieve your health goals. I promise, Effortless Healing isn't a book that will overwhelm you. On top of that, ordering the book today entitles you to 3 exclusive bonuses:


A sneak peek of my new book! You won’t need to wait for the book to arrive to get started. Begin reading my new book right away with your free sneak preview!


My most popular video interviews, all in one place. I’ve compiled 18 of my BEST expert interviews for you to watch and listen to at your leisure, and in the comfort of your own home or office.


Receive 15% off your next Mercola.com order. Depending on your order, your savings from this one bonus alone could more than cover the cost of your book!

All My Profits from This Book Will Be Donated

That's right. When you order a copy of my new book Effortless Healing, you'll be making a much-deserved donation to the key organizations that work quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to make the world a healthier place for you, your family, and your community.

Among them, you'll be benefiting and supporting the actions of:

  • National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) – A non-profit organization that seeks to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defending your right of informed choice.
  • Organic Consumers Association (OCA) – A grassroots public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability, and addressing food safety, GMOs, the industrial agricultural complex, children's health, and more. The ONLY U.S. organization focused exclusively on the interests that you and I share!
  • Consumers for Dental Choice – Children, the unborn, and employees in the dental field are particularly vulnerable to mercury. But so is everyone with a mouthful of amalgam fillings (which are 50% mercury) at risk. Consumers for Dental Choice is working to phase out amalgam use and to promote access to mercury-free alternatives.
  • Fluoride Action Network (FAN) – An international coalition aimed at ending water fluoridation and alerting you to fluoride's environmental and health risks. FAN keeps you informed about fluoride toxicity, and monitors government actions that may expose you to fluoride.

Are you ready to get started? The timing has never been better. Order your copy of Effortless Healing today, collect your free gifts, and let your journey begin!


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The first thing that jumped out at me about this study wasn’t only the benefits of vitamin B12, but the risk that’s there if your levels are low. Not deficient, necessarily, just within the low range of normal

"Our results suggest that rather than maintaining one's B12 at a level that is just above the cut off for deficiency, it might be prudent to aim to keep it higher up than normal range,” the study’s lead researcher said.

This is really important to hear, as most people would assume that if their levels are within the normal range, they’re fine. In reality, you cannot always count on the “normal” reference ranges that come with your blood tests. Vitamin D is another example of a test that lists “normal” ranges that are not nearly adequate to keep you healthy

This really reminds me in many ways of the story of vitamin D. For many decades the “experts” believed that all you needed was 400 units per day. Now we know that you need about ten times that much or the equivalent amount of sun to produce that in your skin.

To really know if your nutrient levels are where they should be to keep you optimally healthy, you need to do some major research of your own (seeking out scientific studies like this one), or you need to seek the guidance of a health care practitioner who thinks outside of the box -- and understands that there is a major difference between “average” and “optimal.”

Getting back to vitamin B12, though, there are many important reasons to make sure you’re getting enough in your diet.

Why is Vitamin B12 so Important?

It’s been estimated that 40 percent of the U.S. population is deficient in vitamin B12, a serious public health problem when you consider how important this vitamin is for your health. Vitamin B12:

• Is needed for proper digestion, food absorption, carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
• Helps folic acid regulate the formation of red blood cells, and helps your body use iron.
• Keep your nervous system healthy by assisting the nerves of your body to function and communicate in an optimal manner.
• Helps in cell formation and cellular longevity.
• Helps support female reproductive health.

• Promote normal nerve growth and development by maintaining the fatty sheaths. These fatty sheaths play a vital role as they cover and protect your nerve endings.
• Is critical to your circulation and adrenal hormone production
• Helps boost your immunity.
• Supports a healthy mood and feelings of well-being, and provides excellent support for your memory, mental clarity, and concentration.
• Helps to boost your energy levels.

Who is at Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

The group most at risk is those who do not eat meat or animal products. Vitamin B12 deficiency is VERY common, almost universal, in strict vegetarians and vegans, as vitamin B12 is NOT readily available, if at all, in plants.

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal tissues, including foods like beef and beef liver, lamb, snapper, venison, salmon, shrimp, scallops, poultry and eggs. And, the few plant foods that are sources of B12 are actually B12 analogs. Simply put, an analog is a substance that blocks the uptake of true B12. The result being, your body’s need for the nutrient actually increases.

You may also be at risk of B12 deficiency if you have stomach problems. This is because B12 needs the help of a protein in order to be absorbed. That protein is called intrinsic factor, and if your stomach is irritated or inflamed, it may stop producing intrinsic factor, making it nearly impossible for your body to absorb B12.

Other factors also influence your body’s B12 levels:

• Age: People over 50 tend to have a limited ability to absorb B12.

• Drinking coffee: A study in Clinical Chemistry found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 15 percent reduction in multiple B vitamins compared to those who drank no coffee.

Taking medications: Many prescription drugs diminish your body’s levels of B12, including antibiotics, anticancer medications, anticonvulsants, anti-gout medications, antihypertensives, antiParkinson's medications, antipsychotics, antituberculosis medications, birth control pills, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and potassium replacements.

Those who have undergone weight-loss surgery, which can impair your body’s ability to absorb B12 and other vitamins.

• Those exposed to laughing gas anesthesia or nitrous oxide.

If you are concerned about getting enough vitamin B12, it is important to know that most oral vitamin B12 supplements do not work well at all. Vitamin B12 is the largest vitamin known and it is not easily absorbed.

Ideally, you should make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin B12 by eating animal foods that are right for your nutritional type, and follow the advice in Take Control of Your Health to overcome any stomach issues that may be inhibiting your absorption.

If you do choose to supplement, studies show that sublingual (under-the-tongue) forms of vitamin B12 are better absorbed by your bloodstream than tablet or inhaled (through your nose) versions.

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico