Do you ever feel weak or tired? Maybe a little lightheaded? Have you noticed your balance isn't what it used to be? These are all signs of one particular vitamin deficiency. And these are just the beginning.
A deficiency in this vitamin also can cause constipation, decreased appetite, depression, vision loss, behavioral changes, and even numbness or tingling in your extremities. We've known this about these signs for some time. But now researchers have added another symptom to the list — memory loss. And it's not just minor memory loss.
The vitamin is B12, which research shows is absolutely critical for your brain to function optimally. In fact, if your blood levels of vitamin B12 are low, but still in the normal range, you could begin to see some cognitive impairment. The good news is this is one form of dementia that's completely reversible.
One study showed vitamin B12, along with folic acid and vitamin B6, can slow brain shrinkage in mild cognitive impairment. Brain shrinkage is associated with the onset of Alzheimer's. So this is important. The vitamins worked so well, the results surprised the authors: "This is a very dramatic and striking result. It's much more than we could have predicted.... It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay development of Alzheimer's in many people who suffer from mild memory problems."
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Another study showed just how important B12 is to your brain. In this study, researchers followed 100 men and women with mild cognitive impairment. All of them were over 50. And all of them had vitamin B12 levels in the normal range. You could easily look at this and conclude that the B12 levels weren't affecting the memory loss. But the researchers looked closer. Here's what they found.
The researchers discovered that the patients with the lowest "normal" B12 levels had "significantly poorer learning ability and recognition performance" than the patients with the highest normal levels.
So if you're over the age of 40 and have any of the symptoms I mentioned earlier, start taking vitamin B12. The most effective way to boost your levels is with regular injections of 2 mg of B12. If you're able to give yourself injections, your doctor can set you up at home to self-administer. Otherwise, you'll have to go to the office and pay for a visit. That can get pricey.
Another option is to take sublingual vitamin B12. The number one reason people over 40 have lower B12 levels is that aging affects their ability to absorb B12 from their diet. Taking B12 tablets that dissolve in your mouth bypasses the gut and sends the B12 straight into your system. It's not as effective as the shots, but it's close. And it's much less expensive. If you want to skip a doctor's visit altogether, simply buy Vitamin B12 and start taking it. You'll likely feel a boost in your energy. And, if a B12 deficiency is causing the other symptoms, they will eventually begin to fade.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.
Köbe T, Witte AV, et al. Vitamin B-12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Am J Clin Nutr
. 2016 Apr;103(4):1045-54.