Vitamin deficiency: the deficiency ‘associated with an increased risk of dementia’

Vitamin B12 deficiency, if left untreated, can cause serious and irreversible damage, especially to the brain and nervous system. It may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Both vitamin B12 deficiency and folic acid deficiency are more common in older people, affecting about one in 10 people aged 75 or older and one in 20 people aged 65 to 74, the NHS says.

The Mayo Clinic has published information on vitamin B12 and dementia.

It notes that vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, and its deficiency can cause a variety of signs and symptoms, “including memory loss.”

It says that in cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, supplements can help improve memory.

“Apart from treating vitamin B12 deficiency, there is no clear evidence that vitamin B12 supplements improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease,” notes the organization.

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Nevertheless, the Mayo Clinic says some research suggests that low vitamin B12 levels may be associated with an increased risk of dementia, “but B vitamin supplementation has not been shown to improve brain function or symptoms of memory loss.”

It reads, “If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin B12 or other specific nutrients, talk to your doctor — especially if you’re an older adult or a vegetarian.”

You should seek advice from your GP if you have symptoms of vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency anemia.

The longer the condition is left untreated, the greater the chance of permanent damage.

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may be prone to deficiency because plant-based foods lack vitamin B12, it adds.

General symptoms of anemia can include extreme tiredness, feeling weak, pale skin and ringing in the ears, according to the NHS. Loss of appetite and weight loss can also indicate the problem.

If you have anemia caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may have other symptoms, such as irritability and depression, according to the NHS.

The health agency adds that you may also notice “changes in the way you think, feel and behave.”

Some people also report declines in their mental abilities, such as memory, comprehension and judgment, the health body says.

“Some of these symptoms can also occur in people who have a vitamin B12 deficiency but have not developed anemia,” it adds.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is usually treated with vitamin B12 injections. According to the NHS, if your vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by a lack of the vitamin in your diet, you may be prescribed vitamin B12 tablets to take between meals each day.

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is more common in people whose family is from Northern Europe, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine site.

It adds that risk factors for vitamin B12 deficiency anemia include removal of part or all of the stomach or intestine, and autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes. Crohn’s disease, HIV, and some medications can also cause the deficiency.

Good sources of vitamin B12 are meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs. If you eat meat, fish or dairy, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet, according to the NHS.

You can also look out for vegan and vegetarian foods that are fortified with vitamin B12, such as some plant-based milks and breakfast cereals.

Source: | This article first appeared on Express.co.uk

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