Numerous medical studies have supported the idea that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to problems of mood and memory as well as neurologic symptoms. This extends to aging patients who have also reported problems with unsteady gait, muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular heart beat, dizziness, faintness, and hair loss.

Can supplementation of vitamin B12 help support brain function in the elderly? Let’s let the research speak for itself.

In recent research, Dr. Yoshizawa of the NTT Medical Center in Japan wrote:

  • “Vitamin deficiency is one of the major causes of treatable dementia. Specifically, patients suffering from dementia frequently display low serum levels of vitamin B12.
  • Folate (Folic Acid) deficiency causes various neuropsychiatric symptoms, which resemble those observed in vitamin B12 deficiency.”1

Doctors in India, including that of the Department of Neurology, King George Medical University wrote:

  • “We conclude that brain networks associated with cognition control are altered in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency, which partially recover following six weeks of replacement therapy.2

Vitamin deficiency is treatable

  • Researchers reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) say Vitamin B12, folate, and sulfur amino acids (Methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine) may be modifiable risk factors for structural brain changes that precede clinical dementia and that that  both vitamin B12 and total homocysteine concentrations may be related to accelerated aging of the brain.3

A recent study published in the online journal, Public Library of Science One (PLOS One) found that Vitamin B12 levels in the brain are significantly decreased in the elderly.

  • healthy elderly people in the age range of 61-80 have about three times lower levels of total brain B12 than younger age groups, which is a result of normal aging.4

Researchers in Australia went to an adult residential community to determine the prevalence of undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency and to identify associated risk factors. What they found was “the finding of undetected deficiency in 14% of residents is a cause for concern.” 5 Why?

  • Being mildly vitamin B-12 deficient could be an indication that some older adults are at a greater risk for accelerated cognitive decline, an observational study from researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University suggests.

A recent from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago provides more evidence that low vitamin B12 is a risk factor for brain atrophy and cognitive impairment, and “highlights the importance of vitamin B12”6


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1 Yoshizawa T1. Treatable Dementia due to Vitamin B12 and Folate Deficiency. Brain Nerve. 2016 Apr;68(4):407-20. doi: 10.11477/mf.1416200414.

2 Gupta L, Gupta RK, Gupta PK. Assessment of brain cognitive functions in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency using resting state functional MRI: A longitudinal study. Magn Reson Imaging. 2016 Feb;34(2):191-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2015.10.026. Epub 2015 Oct 31

3 Hooshmand B, Mangialasche F, Kalpouzos G, Solomon A, Kåreholt I, Smith D, Refsum H, Wang R, Mühlmann M, Ertl-Wagner B, Laukka EJ, Bäckman L, Fratiglioni L, Kivipelto M. Association of Vitamin B12, Folate, and Sulfur Amino Acids With Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging Measures in Older Adults: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 27

4 Yiting Zhang, Nathaniel W. Hodgson, Malav S. Trivedi, Hamid M. Abdolmaleky, Margot Fournier, Michel Cuenod, Kim Quang Do, Richard C. Deth. Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (1): e0146797 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0146797

5. Mirkazemi C, Peterson GM, Tenni PC, Jackson SL. Vitamin B12 deficiency in Australian residential aged care facilities. J Nutr Health Aging. 2012 Mar;16(3):277-80.

6. Tangney CC, et al “Vitamin B12, cognition, and brain MRI measures: A cross-sectional examination” Neurology 2011; 77: 1276–1282.