Here’s some timely health advice: boost your B-vitamin levels now to protect your brain as it ages. Nutritionists have known for some time that significant deficiencies of the B vitamins can lead to memory problems and cognitive impairment. Likewise, increasing intake of certain B vitamins could help protect your rain from dementia.
Researchers at Tufts University in Boston, MA, recently reviewed available clinical research and found that deficiencies of vitamins B12 and B6 are associated with neurological and psychological dysfunction. They went on to report that, in the elderly, cognitive impairment and dementia may be related to the high prevalence of inadequate B-vitamin status — along with elevated levels of blood homocysteine. They concluded that it is “imperative” to find safe ways of improving vitamin B status in the elderly.
So, B12 is a particularly important vitamin when it comes to your nutrition health. It can boost your memory and other cognitive functions. Unfortunately, with age, you might lose the ability to absorb enough B12. Health experts put the figure at 20% for people over age 60. And that percentage jumps to 40% by age 80.
To avoid the health problems associated with vitamin B deficiencies, it’s a good idea to boost your intake through diet. Choose cereals that are fortified with B12. Beef, liver, salmon and sardines all contain high amounts of B12. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about a B12 supplement. If you are vegetarian, be aware that you may be low in vitamin B12 — especially if you don’t eat eggs, fish, or dairy products. Also, certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease can result in poor B12 absorption. In a small number of cases, it may be necessary to supplement a B12 deficiency with injections of the vitamin on a monthly basis.
A deficiency in B6 has also been linked to dementia in the elderly. Fortunately, B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, especially tuna, bananas, chicken and turkey. Normally, a well-balanced diet provides enough B6, but you may have health issues that have caused a deficiency. Again — talk to your healthcare provider and keep your intake of B vitamins up!